The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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Geneva parenting plan attorney

Getting a divorce can be a daunting task. There are many issues that you must address before you can finalize your divorce, and it can become even more complicated if you have minor children. Divorcing with kids can be overwhelming because of the emotional toll it takes on the entire family. One of the most important issues to resolve is how your children will be cared for after the marriage ends. In Illinois, a parenting plan is required by all couples who file for divorce and have minor children.

Parental Responsibilities in an Illinois Parenting Plan

Before your divorce can be finalized, Illinois law requires that you and your spouse have an agreed-upon parenting plan filed with the court. The parenting plan is a written agreement of how you and your ex-spouse will raise your children now that you are divorced. This legal document contains information about how parenting time will be split between the two of you, but also how parental responsibilities will be handled. At a minimum, Illinois parenting plans should address the following when it comes to allocating decision-making responsibilities:

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Batavia parenting plan attorney

Divorce is filled with issues to settle and decisions to make, which can pose a challenge for some couples, especially if they are not on the best of terms. All couples argue about things from time to time, but divorcing couples have often reached the point where disagreements become heated very quickly and can elevate to all-out wars. When it comes to decisions involving the children, these arguments can become even more hostile, and resolving them can be a very emotional process. If your divorce reaches the point where you have to go to court to come to a resolution on matters related to the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, you will need to convince the judge that you will be able to provide for your children's best interests. There are certain things that you should avoid doing when you are fighting for a favorable parenting plan:

Resist the Urge to Complain on Social Media

Social media is present in many peoples’ lives these days. In divorce cases, it can become a tool in your ex’s arsenal to use against you if you are posting the wrong type of things on your timeline. Even if you are just sharing a photo of yourself and your new partner, your ex could use it in a negative way, perhaps by claiming that you are more focused on your new relationship than on your children's best interests. Be extremely cautious of what you post online during your divorce proceedings, and above all, do not post anything directly pertaining to your case.

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DuPage County parenting plan lawyerChange can be hard for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for children. When it comes to divorce, children will typically experience a lot of change in a short period of time. Their living arrangements will change dramatically, they will not be spending as much time with either parent anymore, and in some situations, they may even have to adapt to new routines. All of this change can be hard on children, because they depend on stability and routine so much. This is a known fact, which is why the state of Illinois requires every divorcing couple who has children to create a parenting plan before they can finalize their divorce.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a legal agreement that contains information about how two parents will take care of their children once they are separated. In Illinois, a parenting plan will contain information about how parenting time is divided, along with how parental responsibilities are allocated. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains the basic elements that all parenting plans must include in order to be approved.

Elements of a Parenting Plan

The courts encourage spouses to come to an agreement on the parenting plan. Most of the time, if couples agree on the parenting plan, they are more likely to be satisfied with the contents of the plan and actually follow the agreement. If they cannot agree, they must submit their own parenting plans to the court, and a judge will make the final determinations about the parenting plan. At a minimum, every parenting plan should contain the following:

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Aurora, IL family law attorneyThere is no one definition that is used when you talk about the “best interests of the child” during divorce cases. What may be right for one child is not always right for another child. Illinois courts understand this, which is why when it comes to child-related issues, a variety of factors are used to determine the best course of action. During divorce cases, decisions must be made about parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities, which are both child-centered issues. The main goal of the courts is to ensure that the child’s safety and overall well-being is placed at the top of the list of priorities.

Factors Used in Deciding the Child’s Well-Being

In many Illinois divorce cases, parents can lose sight of what is truly best for their child. This is when a judge may step in and help parents decide certain issues. Each divorce, family, situation, and child is unique. When judges are making these decisions, they base their determinations on the child’s age and needs, along with these factors:

  • The physical safety and well-being of the child, including the child’s access to food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare

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Aurora, IL parental relocation attorneyThere are many reasons why a person may want to move after a divorce. Some may want to be closer to family members, others may move for a new job or simply a fresh start. Whatever the reason, moving can be problematic for a divorced parent who wants to take his or her child with him or her.

In Illinois, moving out of state, moving more than 50 miles away from the current residence within the state, or moving more than 25 miles away if the current residence is in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County is considered relocation, and a parent will be required to obtain permission from the court. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, a person still may be able to relocate, but the issue will need to be settled within the court system.

Notice of Relocation

Illinois law states that a person wishing to relocate with his or her child must notify the other parent in writing at least 60 days prior to the intended relocation. The notice should inform the other parent of the date of relocation, the new address, and whether or not the relocation is permanent. If the other parent signs the notice, and the notice is filed with the court, then the relocation will be granted, as long as the family court judge believes that the move would be in the child's best interests. If the other parent objects to the relocation or does not sign the notice, or if the parents cannot come to an agreement on a modified parenting plan, the relocating parent must file a petition to relocate.

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Aurora, IL family law attorneyThe divorce process is complex. It affects almost every area of your life, including your financial well-being, your emotional health, and even your living situation and retirement plans. Since divorce is such a monumental event, it is essential that you find a good divorce lawyer to guide you through the legal process. Who you hire to represent you is arguably one of the most important decisions you will make regarding your divorce. It can be confusing choosing a lawyer, but by using the following tips, you can ensure that your attorney is the best choice for your situation and circumstances.

Keep Your Goals in Mind

Before you even begin meeting with divorce attorneys, you should figure out what you want out of the divorce. What issues are most important to you? If you have a feeling that your soon-to-be ex-spouse will become contentious over the parenting time and parental responsibility arrangements, you should try to find a lawyer who is skilled in handling child-related issues. If you have reason to believe your spouse may be hiding assets from you, you will want to seek a lawyer who has experience in investigating financial matters. Attorney Matthew M. Williams has dealt with cases involving both parenting time and parenting responsibility allocation. He also has worked with forensic accountants and other financial experts in cases in which spouses are not transparent with their assets.

Ask the Right Questions

Once you have a selection of lawyers who may be good matches for you, you should begin setting up consultations to meet with them in person. This will allow you and your potential attorney to get to know each other before you commit to working with him or her. During your consultation, you will want to ask a few questions about his or her qualifications and how the firm can help your case overall. During this time, you can ask what the attorney’s opinion is on your case and how he or she would proceed with handling it. When consulting with Attorney Matthew M. Williams, his 15 years of family law experience will be apparent while you discuss your case with him.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer,One of the biggest stressors that many divorcing couples have during -- and after -- their divorce is the children. Many parents worry that a divorce will put too much of a strain on their children, while other parents worry about having enough time with their children. While it is true that a divorce can be difficult for the entire family, children can be more flexible and adaptable than adults. It is generally understood that children do best after a divorce when both of their parents are present and active in their lives. While this is true, many divorced families find that they do not come out of the divorce with the parenting plan they wanted. A new bill, called the “Equal Parenting Time” bill was introduced in Illinois recently, which aims to make it so that more parents have equal parenting time with their children after an Illinois divorce. Current Parenting Time Guidelines

Under the current section in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, parenting time is determined by first encouraging parents to try to come to an agreement on a parenting plan. If both parents do not submit a mutually-agreeable plan to the court, then the court allocates parenting time in accordance with the child’s best interests. When making this decision, the judge looks at a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • The wishes of each parent;
  • The wishes of the child;
  • The amount of time each parent has performed caretaking functions for the child in the past two years;
  • The mental and physical health of both the parents and the child;
  • The needs of the child;
  • The willingness of each parent to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent; and
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to put the child’s needs before their own needs.
Proposed Changes to Guidelines The proposed bill would change a few things about the allocation of parenting time in Illinois. There would be added language which states that, “it is in the child’s best interests to award equal time to each parent.” This means that both parents will be presumed to be fit parents. The court will begin with the presumption that each parent is awarded equal parenting time and then reduce or add time as needed upon findings that conflict with the child’s best interest. Contact a Skilled DuPage County Parenting Time Attorney

Going through a divorce can be difficult. You may feel like you are not in control of your divorce, but with help from an Aurora, IL parenting time lawyer, you can be certain you are getting reliable help. At the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., we can help you and your soon-to-be ex spouse try to settle on an agreeable parenting plan. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on a plan, we can take other measures to ensure you receive the parenting time you need. Call our office today at 630-409-8184 to schedule a consultation.

 

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The structure of the American family is drastically changing. Even though the majority of children are still raised in households with a married mother and father, that number has been decreasing over the years. According to the Pew Research Center, less than half of American children are living with both of their parents in their first marriage. Family structures in the United States have been changing and now include blended families with step-parents and children, parents who cohabitate and LGBT families. According to The Williams Institute, about half of LGBT women and a fifth of LGBT men are raising a child. The Case Recently, an Illinois court ruled that a woman has parental rights to a child that was conceived in her lesbian marriage. The woman’s former wife had sought a sperm donor to carry the child that was to be raised by the both of them. When the child was born, both parents identified themselves as co-parents on the birth certificate but split seven months after the birth. Even though the woman has no biological connection to the child, she was granted parental rights and partial custody of the child by a Winnebago County court. Determining Parentage Under Illinois law, a person is considered to be a parent of a child if the mother of the child and the person entered into a marriage, civil union, or other legal relationship before the birth of the child and the child was born during the time of the relationship. Using this law, the mother seeking parental rights in the case involving her non-biological child had a right to seek custody. Illinois Parental Rights Laws

According to Illinois law, parents can assert rights involving their non-biological child and they can also be held responsible for providing child support payments.  In the state of Illinois, parental responsibility consists of two things - significant decision-making and parenting time. Significant decision-making consists of things such as:

  • Education, including the choice of schools and tutors;
  • Health, including all decisions pertaining to the medical, dental and psychological well-being of the child;
  • Religion;
  • Extracurricular activities; and
  • Unless an agreement by both parents is submitted that details the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will determine which responsibilities are allocated to each parent.
Determining Factors

In the event that the parents can not come to an agreement in determining parental responsibilities, the court will determine the responsibilities that each parent is accountable for. When making these determinations, the court looks at these factors:

  • The wishes of the child;
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community;
  • The mental and physical health of the child and both parents;
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate, or the level of conflict between them;
  • The level of each parent’s past participation in parental responsibilities;
  • Any prior agreement between the parents involving parental responsibility;
  • The wishes of the parents;
  • The child’s needs;
  • The distance between the parent’s homes, the difficulty of transporting the child to and from the homes, each person’s daily schedules and the parent’s ability to comply with the arrangement;
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to encourage and facilitate a relationship between the other parent and the child;
  • The likability of abuse by either parent to the child; and
  • Whether one of the parents is a sex offender.
Seek Help from an Illinois Parental Rights Lawyer Navigating the court system when you are seeking custody arrangements for your child is difficult and can be confusing. Having an experienced Illinois parental rights lawyer with you can provide a sense of relief and support. The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. can help you figure out what is best for you and your child. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule a consultation.

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parenting time, DuPage County family law attorneysA divorced, separated, or unmarried parent should never feel like a stranger in the life of his or her child. For many parents, however, that was often their reality as Illinois—like many states—used to refer to their time with their children as “visitation.” A parent who is seen as a “visitor,” rather than integral part of the child’s life, could experience a variety of problems, including a lack of parental authority and the appearance of not being fully committed to his or her child’s best interests.

Last year, however, an amended law took effect which proved that Illinois lawmakers recognized the struggles of many divorced parents. The new law was an effort to “level the playing field” so to speak between parents with different levels of parental responsibilities.

Visitation Is Now Parenting Time

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Tparents, Aurora divorce attorneyhe decision to file for divorce is always a difficult one, but the challenges are often magnified when the situation involves children. While issues like marital property and spousal support are certainly important, the future of your children and your parental rights should never take a back seat to more material concerns. The judge overseeing your divorce has authority under the law to issue orders regarding your children, but the process should begin with the two people who know your children the best: you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Statutory Encouragement

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act presumes that divorcing parents will have an interest in developing a parenting plan that fits their individual circumstances and serves the best interests of their children. Therefore, divorcing parents are expected to draft and submit a proposed arrangement to the court. Each parent may draft a separate plan or the parents can work together on a single proposal. If the parents submit a jointly-drafted plan, the court must review it to be sure that it is reasonable and that the child’s interests are fully protected.

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child's wishes, DuPage County family law attorneyWhen a couple with children breaks up or gets divorced, it is often the children who get caught in the middle. Along with the other considerations inherent to the proceedings, the divorcing parents are faced with deciding how to divide parental responsibilities and parenting time. This concept used to be known as child custody in Illinois, but changes to the law have updated the language being used by the courts. Regardless of what it may be called, determining who will be responsible for your child and where he or she will live are serious concerns with many factors to be considered. Some people may be surprised to learn that the child’s wishes are, by law, expected to be part of the equation.

What the Law Says

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a child does have some say in how parental responsibilities and parenting time are allocated by the courts. The court, however, will not base its decision solely on the child’s wishes; they are a part of the bigger picture. Other factors, as one might expect, include each parent’s ability and willingness to provide for the child, allegations or history of abuse, and the relationship each parent has with the child.

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relocation, Aurora family law attorneyNobody likes the idea of feeling trapped. If you are like most people, you want the freedom to seek new adventures and new opportunities. Of course, certain responsibilities in life may limit your ability to enjoy such liberties, but that does not mean they are completely out of reach. If you currently share parental responsibilities with your child’s other parent, you may feel that you are no longer free to pursue your personal goals, especially if they involve moving to another part of the state or out of Illinois altogether. Getting permission from the court for a relocation, however, may be possible, and there are some things to think about before you make a decision.

Legal Requirements

When you are the parent with primary parental responsibilities and half or more of the parenting time with your child, you must obtain permission from the other parent before relocating with the child. If the other parent refuses, you can seek permission from the court for the move. You only need approval if your new residence would be within Illinois and more than 25 miles from a current home in the metro Chicago area, or more than 50 miles from a current home anywhere else in the state. An out-of-state move requires approval if it is more than 25 miles from a current home anywhere in Illinois.

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parental responsibilities, Illinois family law attorneysWhen you are in the midst of a divorce, it may seem very tempting to just sit back and the let a judge make the difficult decisions. Of course, this approach fails to account for the multiple court appearances that will probably be necessary, and the fact that you will still need to provide the court with all of the information and evidence relevant to your case. Divorce laws in Illinois explicitly promote amicable agreements between divorcing spouses whenever possible. Divorcing parents, in particular, are expected to work together in developing a plan for cooperative parenting and protecting their children’s best interests. Parents Know Best There are many examples in Illinois family law indicating that a court must presume that parents will act in the best interest of their child. This is based on the idea that, unless proven otherwise, parents are equipped to fully understand the situation at hand and to make decisions for their child that are ultimately beneficial. Due to recent updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the same concept is now being applied to co-parenting and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Rather than assuming that courts should make parenting judgments, the amended law requires divorcing parents to develop a strategy for parenting together. The plan, of course, must be reviewed and approved by the court, but the court will only make changes or enter a judgment of its own when absolutely necessary to protect the child’s interests. Parenting Plans According to the law, once a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities—formerly child custody—has begun, parents have 120 days to file a proposed parenting plan. The plan must address each party’s rights, decision-making authority, parenting time schedule, and a number of other concerns required by law. The deadline may be extended if either parent can show good cause. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, the court has the authority to order mediation to assist in the process. Should mediation ultimately fail, or if either party refuses to participate in good faith, the court may allocate parental responsibilities, likely taking the refusal to cooperate into account. A parenting plan that addresses all of the appropriate concerns and that is reasonable to both parents will be approved by the court and entered as part of the divorce judgment. Parents can later amend the plan either by agreement or by showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Legal Advocate for Parents

If you have questions about divorce, parenting plans, or the allocation of parental responsibilities, contact an experienced Aurora family law attorney. We will help you find the answers you need so that you can make an informed, responsible decision about how to proceed with your case. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule an appointment at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., today.

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http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+VI&ActID=2086&ChapterID=0&SeqStart=8350000&SeqEnd=10200000

holidays, parenting time, Illinois family law attorneyWith Thanksgiving about a week away, and the winter holidays just around the corner, it is time to begin making plans. In most families, such plans may include which family member is bringing what dessert, and who is hosting dinner this year. For divorced or unmarried parents subject to a custody or parenting time agreement, however, the preparation process often includes some additional elements. If your child splits his or her time between your home and that of the other parent, the holiday season probably requires a level of cooperation, but with reasonable communication, the experience can be positive for all involved.

Check Your Agreement

Your parenting agreement may already include provisions regarding the holidays. Parenting time orders are often customized based on the traditions and priorities of each family, and there are variety of ways to make such a schedule. For example, your order may indicate that this year, your child spends Thanksgiving with you and Christmas with the other parent, and then next year, the opposite occurs. Alternatively, it may specify that your child spends the morning with you on designated holidays and the afternoon with other parent. If a particular holiday is not traditionally observed by one parent or the other, the agreement may permit the child to stay with parent who does celebrate it for the entire day.

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parenting plan, parental responsibilities, Illinois family law attorneyAs part of the family law reform bill passed in Illinois earlier this summer, the concept of “legal child custody” is being replaced by the allocation of parenting responsibilities regarding the child. The goal of the change is shift the focus of separated or divorcing parents away from “winning” or “losing” custody and toward a spirit of cooperation in raising their child.

What is a Parenting Plan?

Beginning January 1, parents who are party to case involving the allocation of parenting responsibilities are statutorily expected to attempt to develop a written parenting plan. In recognition that negotiation is nearly always better than courtroom litigation, the parents are encouraged to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties and in the child’s best interest. As defined in the law, a parenting plan outlines each parent’s significant decision-making responsibilities, parenting time/schedules, or both. To be accepted by the court, a proposed plan must include:

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The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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