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A Crash Course in Terminology for Divorcing Parents

 Posted on January 13, 2024 in Divorce

Blog ImageIf you are not a lawyer or have never been through a divorce yourself, chances are you are not familiar with all the divorce-related terminology. On top of that, some official terms describe things that are commonly known by another name. This article will include explanations of some of the most common terms that come up during divorce proceedings between parents. If you are considering divorce and would like to speak with someone who has experience and knowledge in the topic, an Arlington Heights, IL divorce lawyer can help.

Parenting Time

Parenting time is one of the most common topics for debate when parents go through a divorce, but the term that most people know it by is visitation. Parenting time refers to the time when the child is with the parent. This includes which nights the child sleeps with which parent, which holidays they spend with them, what happens during school vacations, and more. Generally speaking, in the State of Illinois both parents are granted some amount of parenting time. Even if one parent gets primary custody, the other one will be given some time to spend with their child unless they pose a risk to them.

To determine how a family will divide parenting time, the court will consider many factors, including:

  • The child’s best interests

  • The parents’ wishes and capabilities

  • Mental and physical health of the parents and child

Parental Responsibilities

The term “parental responsibilities” refers to the ability to make important decisions on behalf of one’s children. Most people refer to this as legal custody. Usually, both parents can have some say on important matters like medical procedures that their children will undergo. If either parent does not want to or is not able to be responsible for such matters, the other parent will have exclusive claim but, in general, both parents have some degree of decision-making ability.

Parenting Plan

This set of guidelines for the divorcing parents to follow is otherwise known as a custody agreement. It describes everything from which parent will have decision-making rights regarding the child’s health or education to where the child will live and when, and which holidays the child will be with which parent.

Guardian Ad Litem

This is a legal representative appointed by the court whose primary objective is to advocate for whatever is in the child’s best interest. Sometimes referred to by its acronym, GAL, this person is brought in to help when the child’s parents who are in the process of divorce are unable to reach any productive decisions together or they are deemed unfit to make decisions in the child’s interest. To do their job properly, they speak with the child, the parents, and other people who know the child and parents (neighbors, teachers, babysitters, school nurses, doctors); they review the child’s medical records and school records; and then check in at the home to observe it first-hand.

Contact an Arlington Heights, IL Divorce Lawyer

When you get a divorce, it might feel like everyone around you is speaking a different language. There is a full vocabulary of terms that you might never have heard before, and this article only scratched the surface. If you are considering a divorce, a knowledgeable Arlington Heights, IL family law attorney can patiently explain what these terms mean so that you understand what is happening every step of the way. Call A. Traub & Associates at 847-749-4182 so we can get started.

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