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Arlington Heights family law attorneyDivorce involving children can be stressful regardless of the situation, but divorce involving parents who disagree on child custody issues can be especially difficult. In Illinois, the term “child custody” has been replaced with the “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” Divorcing parents are expected to agree on a strategy for how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be managed after the divorce in their official Illinois “parenting plan.”

However, many parents do not see eye-to-eye regarding this plan. Parents may disagree on which parent will make major decisions about the child’s life and upbringing, the amount of time that the child spends with each parent, household rules, and more.  If you are in a contentious child-related legal dispute, the following tips may help you to cope.

Avoid Sharing Too Much Information on Social Media

Many people make the mistake of oversharing on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Although these may seem like the perfect places to air grievances against your soon-to-be-ex, doing so will likely worsen the drama surrounding your child custody dispute. In addition to causing later feelings of embarrassment and regret, sharing details about child custody matters online may also influence the case. Even if you decide to delete what you posted, other people can still save a copy of what you wrote and use it against you during any legal proceedings.

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Arlington Heights family law attorneysFor a couple with children, a divorce or separation can be particularly challenging. In addition to the difficulties inherent to every other marital dissolution, such as property division and alimony, divorcing parents are also faced with the prospect of sharing parental responsibilities. As with most aspects of divorce, the court can and will determine arrangements for dividing these responsibilities, but only if necessary. Illinois courts and the law much prefer that divorcing parents reach an agreement of their own, as a negotiated arrangement is more likely to be followed than one simply imposed by a judge. Drafting a parenting plan that works well for you, your spouse, and your child is a vital part of the divorce process for parents.

Decision-Making Authority

Your parenting plan must clearly lay out the rights and responsibilities for both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse regarding your child. Recent changes to the law in Illinois have eliminated the concepts of sole and joint child custody, so the two of you will need to decide who will be responsible for what, especially regarding significant issues like education, health care, religious training, and extracurricular activities. One of you may be responsible for all significant decisions, they may be split between you, or you may choose to make all such decisions together—presuming that communication is strong enough to facilitate cooperation.

Other Considerations

A workable parenting plan will also need to include some type of method for determining each party’s parenting time. Whether you decide to follow a strict schedule or use a more flexible arrangement, you are both entitled to time with your child. You will also need to decide which of your homes will be used for school enrollment and other custodial-type purposes. Your plan should also include, if appropriate, the right of first refusal regarding alternative child-care needs.

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Arlington Heights family law attorneysDomestic violence touches the lives of countless families in Illinois and across the United States. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that nearly 40 percent of Illinois women and over 25 percent of Illinois men have been the victim of intimate partner physical abuse, sexual abuse, or stalking. On a national scale, one out of every 15 children are exposed to domestic violence every year. Being witness to domestic violence can dramatically impact a child’s wellbeing. Consequently, Illinois courts heavily weigh accusations of domestic violence when making determinations about child custody and parenting time.

The Effect of Domestic Violence on Children

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 describes domestic violence as abuse as well as “interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation.” Domestic violence can include physical violence, threats, psychological manipulation, intimidation, gaslighting and more. When children witness a parent physically or mentally abusing the other parent, it has a profound effect on them. Children who are witness to domestic violence are much more likely to experience depression, anxiety, verbal, motor, and cognitive issues, aggressive behavior, insomnia, and other problems.

Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities

Illinois courts make all child-related decisions based on what is in the child’s best interest. A court will never assign custody or parenting time to a parent who is a danger to the child. In some cases, a judge may allow a parent who has been accused of domestic violence to have limited parenting time or supervised parenting time. The court may also require the transfer of the child to take place in public. If you are a parent who has been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of your spouse and you are divorcing, it is crucial that you notify the court of the abuse. If you are worried that your spouse will be a danger to your children, you can petition the court to get sole parental responsibility of your child. Speak with a divorce lawyer experienced in cases involving domestic violence so that you and your children’s rights will be fully protected during the divorce process.

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Arlington Heights family law attorneysIf you are a parent who shares parental responsibility, or custody, with your child’s other parent, you know how challenging and complicated a shared parenting arrangement can be. A joint parenting arrangement can become even more complicated when a parent plans to move away. If the parent with the majority of parenting time moves a great distance away, the other parent may worry that he or she will not get to see his or her child. Fortunately, a parent who is subject to a shared parenting arrangement cannot relocate a significant distance without input from the child’s other parent.

Defining “Relocation” Under Illinois Law

Illinois parents can only dispute a move if it meets the definition of “relocation” according to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. There are three different situations that can constitute relocation:

  • The parent lives in Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, McHenry County, Will County, or Lake County and is planning to move more than 25 miles away.
  • The parent lives in another Illinois county and wants to move to a residence that is 50 miles or more away.
  • The parent wants to move outside the state of Illinois to a residence that is more than 25 miles away.

If the relocation meets the above criteria, the parent planning to move must notify the other parent at least 60 days before the move. They must also provide the other parent with the new intended address.

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Rolling Meadows family law attorneyThe law in Illinois requires divorcing parents to submit a plan for how they intend to care and provide for their children. Parenting plans include provisions for how child custody, officially called the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois, should be managed, as well as several other child-related concerns. One part of Illinois parenting plans that often gets overlooked is the “right of first refusal.” Read on to learn what the right of first refusal is and how you can include directions about extra parenting time in your parenting plan.

Maximizing Parenting Time With Right of First Refusal Provisions

If you are a parent who is getting divorced, you may worry that you will not get to spend as much time as you want to with your child once the divorce is finalized. Parents who are used to seeing their children every day can understandably have a difficult time adjusting to a parenting schedule where they see their children less often. The right of first refusal refers to the right that parents have to spend time with their children when the other parent cannot fulfill his or her parenting time obligations.

For example, imagine that your child’s other parent goes on a business trip during one of the weekends that he or she is assigned parenting time. Instead of the parent calling a babysitter or other individual to care for the child in his or her absence, the right of first refusal can require the parent to ask you if you are able and willing to care for your child during the business trip. If you “refuse” the extra parenting time, then the other parent would be permitted to hire a babysitter or find alternative childcare.

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