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

630-409-8184

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

Yorkville Office By Appointment

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Aurora divorce attorney parenting plan

Most of the time, the biggest worry that couples have when they are getting a divorce is how it will affect their children. For the most part, children are fairly resilient and will eventually bounce back from the stress and transition of the divorce. Children with special needs may not be as resilient, however, and may need special considerations of their own. Before you are able to finalize your divorce, you are required to file a parenting plan with the court that outlines your parenting time schedule and how you have allocated your significant decision-making responsibilities. If you and your spouse are the parents of a child with special needs, there are certain things that you should keep in mind to ensure your child gets what he or she needs.

Things to Keep in Mind for Your Parenting Plan

When you get a divorce and a child with special needs is involved, the process is inherently going to be more complex. 

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Yorkville divorce attorney

Getting a divorce can seem like you are on an emotionally fueled rollercoaster. One moment you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are in an ugly argument and you are full of anger and the next thing you know, you are remembering all of the memories you made together and the family you created and you are filled with a sense of grief. It is normal to feel a wide range of emotions during the divorce process, but maintaining a sense of stability is important when working toward a healthy divorce. It is not impossible to have a minimally contentious and agreeable divorce, but there are steps that you can take to make sure your divorce is as healthy as possible. 

Begin the Process With a Negotiating Mindset

Throughout the divorce process, there will be many decisions that will need to be made. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will have to determine who will keep the family home or how you will divide the value of it and other assets, what you will do with your retirement accounts, how you will construct your parenting plan, whether or not you will receive spousal maintenance payments, and the list goes on. You should be prepared to greet each and every one of these decisions with an open mind and a willingness to cooperate.

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Geneva divorce attorney parenting plan

Perhaps one of the most difficult and challenging parts of the divorce process for parents is creating a parenting plan for their children after their divorce is finalized. The parenting plan will act as a blueprint for how most things related to parenting and the children should be handled. No two parenting plans are the same, as each family has different needs and situations. There are many factors that can affect your parenting plan, but one of the biggest factors can be your child’s age. Creating a parenting plan around infants, especially, can seem daunting, but it is not impossible. If you have a baby and you need to create a parenting plan, the following are a few things to keep in mind.

Frequent Visits Are Important

There are many different types of visitation schedules you can create for your children, but when it comes to parenting time with an infant, the more frequently it occurs, the better. Infants do not yet have the ability to create the best memories, so frequent interactions with both parents will ensure that the baby is able to form a bond with both of them and recognize they are important people in their life as they grow older.  

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Batavia divorce attorney parenting plan

For many parents, the most difficult part of the divorce is the children. How will they react to the news of the divorce? How much time will I get to spend with them each day? Who will pay child support to whom? These are some of the things that may be running through your mind as you go through a divorce as a parent. The good news is that many, if not most of your questions will be answered once you and your spouse come to an agreement on a parenting plan for your children. In Illinois, you are required to file a parenting plan that outlines certain issues before you can finalize your divorce. Your parenting plan can also be a valuable tool to utilize when you set out to co-parent with your spouse after the divorce.

Provisions to Consider Adding

Co-parenting is never easy, even when you are doing it with your spouse when you are married. Co-parenting with an ex can be especially stressful and emotionally taxing, but a clear-cut parenting plan can help take some of the uncertainty out of what the expectations of each parent are. Illinois courts require certain elements to be present in a parenting plan for it to be valid, such as a parenting time schedule and an allocation of parental responsibilities. You may want to consider adding other provisions such as:

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North Aurora parenting plan attorney

One of the biggest concerns that people have about divorce is how it affects the children who are stuck in the middle of these situations. Multiple studies have been conducted on the effect of divorce on kids throughout their lives and while research is always ongoing, these studies have shown that the divorce itself is not what affects children -- it is the conflict to which they are exposed. Some children who have divorced parents grow up to be successful and well-adjusted adults, while some have more trouble. The children who grew up to be successful tended to be from families in which the divorce was fairly peaceful, while the ones who experienced issues were usually from families that had a lot of conflict and stress because of the divorce. When you have children, you do not get to simply forget about your child’s other parent and never see him or her again. The reality is, you must be willing to compromise and communicate with your child’s other parent for child-rearing. Unfortunately, some couples simply cannot seem to make co-parenting work. The good news is that there are alternatives to co-parenting, with the most popular option being parallel parenting.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

In many ways, parallel parenting is much like co-parenting. In both instances, you and your ex still both have parenting time with your children. However, in a parallel parenting situation, you and your ex are much more disengaged from one another, unlike in a co-parenting relationship. It helps to think of its namesake -- parallel lines. They always run in the same direction but angled in such a way that they never collide. For example, in a parallel parenting agreement, the parents may communicate or even see each other only to make a decision about the children’s medical care or schooling, but then make day-to-day decisions on their own while the kids are in their care.

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Yorkville parenting plan attorney

Even when a divorce is friendly and parents are amicable with one another, co-parenting is not easy work. Co-parenting takes a lot of effort, communication, and a willingness to work together to be successful. In an ideal situation, both parents would be willing to put their own feelings and hurt aside to come together as a parental unit for their children. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Sometimes, a parent can get so caught up in their own emotions and personal vendettas that they lose sight of what is best for their children. The following advice can help you and your ex-spouse work together for the sake of your kids.

Making Co-Parenting Easier

Cooperative co-parenting is what every parent aims for after divorce from their children’s other parent. While it may seem difficult, effective co-parenting is not impossible. It simply takes a little bit of time and effort to make it work. If you are at odds with how to cope with an uncooperative co-parent, here are a few tips that can make things a little easier:

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Kane County parenting time modification attorney

When making divorce arrangements, the idea is that the terms will last a lifetime. While this may work for some of the areas in a divorce, such as property division, parenting plan arrangements may not last the test of time. There are a number of reasons why someone may want to modify a parenting plan, but the court will only allow it if it is in the best interest of the child. What a parent thinks is best for the child and what the court sees as best for the child can be extremely different. That is why it is important to work with an experienced divorce attorney to determine what circumstances warrant these adjustments.

Danger Is a Possibility

The primary instance in which a parenting plan agreement is modified is if a child is in harm’s way. If domestic violence is present in either of the child’s assigned homes, a court will immediately take action to protect the child. If the custodial parent is showing signs of abuse toward his or her child, the agreement may be modified so that the child no longer lives in that household. If the non-custodial parent is suspected of abuse, he or she may be required to have supervised visitation with the child or may lose visitation rights altogether.

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North Aurora parenting plan attorney

In the United States, healthcare can be an extremely complicated topic, especially for children. After a divorce, many parents find that managing the medical care of their children may be wrought with arguments, tension, and stress. Although there is no guarantee that you can eliminate all issues down the road, planning for your child’s healthcare before your divorce is finalized is a good idea. Some children may need more managed, targeted medical treatment, while other children may only need a yearly checkup. Every family is different, so putting your child’s medical plan in writing can help save you from future disputes.

Managing Your Child’s Health Insurance

Part of the child support obligation that parents share is intended to cover some basic medical expenses, but the court will likely also require you to have medical insurance for your child. Either parent can opt to include the child on medical insurance coverage that he or she has through an employer. The cost of the health insurance premium for the child is typically added to the monthly support amount and split between the parents.

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North Aurora parenting time attorney

When you created your parenting plan during your divorce, it contained a lot of information. It included what you and your spouse’s parenting time schedules looked like, who your child would spend vacations and school holidays with, and how you and your spouse would settle child-related disputes. What your parenting plan likely did not contain was a game plan for co-parenting during a health crisis, such as the one the world is experiencing with COVID-19. Unprecedented situations may warrant a change in everyone’s routine, so it is important to be flexible and willing to compromise with your ex-spouse while considering your child’s best interests.  

Working Together for Your Child’s Well-Being 

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we go about our daily lives for weeks and in some places, even months. Co-parenting is not an easy task, and it can become even more difficult during a crisis because of the stress and uncertainty that family members are experiencing. Even so, here are a few things you should keep in mind while you navigate co-parenting during this challenging time:

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North Aurora divorce attorney parenting time

Being a parent means you do everything in your power to give your children the best life possible. Unfortunately, spouses are not always in agreement when it comes to what is best for their children. Having differing opinions is nearly unavoidable, but these differences can get in the way when it comes to creating a parenting plan. If you are getting a divorce, and you have minor children, you and your spouse must draft this legal document, which contains vital information about parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Disagreements are a part of life, but a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help you resolve many of these issues.

Drafting a Joint Parenting Plan

Before you can finalize your divorce, you and your spouse must have a parenting plan in place. The parenting plan is like a game plan for how you will raise your children after the divorce. The two main components of a parenting plan are the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and the parenting time (visitation) schedule. Your parenting plan should also address issues such as each parent’s decision-making rights, where the child will spend certain holidays and school breaks, how and where parenting time transitions will take place, and how your child will be transported between households.

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North Aurora child support attorney

Getting a divorce is a stressful situation, with much of that stress stemming from the uncertainty of the situation. Once your divorce is finalized, you will have an agreement in writing for how issues will be handled moving forward. You and your spouse must create a parenting plan that will be followed as you raise your children. This may also include a spousal support and/or child support agreement, so you have a better picture of your future financial situation. However, what happens before you reach that step? During the divorce process, it is not uncommon for one spouse to move out of the family home, and you and your spouse will begin separating your finances and other aspects of your lives. During this time, temporary orders can be put into place to help alleviate some of the anxiety during the transition.

What Do Temporary Orders Address?

Illinois courts always believe that the best and most beneficial way to handle domestic disputes is for the parties to work together to come up with a solution. During a divorce, this may be difficult to do, which is when temporary court orders can come in handy. As you work to complete your divorce, you can ask the judge for temporary relief to address things such as parenting time or child support while the case is pending. When granted, temporary orders will typically remain in effect until your divorce is finalized. Common temporary orders can include:

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North Aurora parenting time attorney

Some of the most common issues that arise after a divorce is settled are those related to the child(ren) the couple had together. Specifically, disputes over parenting time (visitation) can occur, and they can lead to a great deal of conflict between the parents. Because the decisions made during divorce are legally binding, a non-compliant parent can face a variety of legal consequences. 

Court-Ordered Parenting Time

When you get a divorce, the state of Illinois requires you to come up with a parenting plan that outlines all relevant issues regarding your child, including how you and your ex-spouse will share parental responsibilities and how parenting time will be split between the two of you. If you cannot come to an arrangement on your own, an Illinois judge will make the decision for you based on a variety of factors in the child’s best interests. Because the parenting time schedule specified in your parenting plan is required, approved, and sometimes even created by the court, this makes it a legally-binding court order. This means both you and your spouse must follow the terms of the order, or you could face being held in contempt of the court.

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Batavia parenting time attorney

"Divorce" and "peaceful" are probably two words that you never thought you would put in the same sentence together, but a peaceful divorce is not as rare as you might think. Amicable divorces are beneficial to everyone involved, especially if you have children. Having a peaceful divorce does not just happen by chance -- you have to not only want it to happen, but you also have to work hard to make it a reality. Although it takes two cooperating spouses to achieve a truly amicable divorce, there are certain things you can do to encourage a tranquil resolution. Below are a few tips to attain the ever-illusive harmonious divorce, which can help everyone with this major life transition. 

Be Respectful to One Another

There are a number of common reasons why couples get divorced, some of them being addiction issues (gambling, drugs, or alcohol), infidelity, or even domestic violence. Even though these issues can make it difficult to maintain respect for your spouse, keeping a mutual level of respect between the two of you is important to having a smooth divorce. Arguing or disrespecting your spouse in front of your children can make kids feel like they have to choose sides, which can be detrimental to their emotional well-being. The breakup of the family unit is traumatic enough, so do not add extra stress on them. 

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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 co-parenting attorneyGetting divorced when you have children brings about a wide variety of issues, worries, and concerns. Not only do you have to figure out how you will share parental responsibilities and how you will divide parenting time, but many parents also worry about how their children will be affected emotionally by the divorce. Statistics on this topic can be difficult to analyze; some sources say that divorce is detrimental to the mental and emotional health of children. While this can be true in some situations, a majority of experts agree that your children can grow up happy and healthy as long as they are able to experience a healthy co-parenting relationship between their parents. Co-parenting can be trying, even for parents who are amicable, but a peaceful relationship is not impossible.

Successful Co-Parenting Depends on Collaboration

You have heard it before, and you will most likely hear it many times during and after your divorce — cooperation and communication are key to success after divorce with children. You cannot hope to have a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex if you do not know how to compromise or talk with each other effectively. Make it a habit to keep in regular touch with your ex about your child’s life, and always include him or her in important decisions.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

There are dozens of apps and websites available that were created to help people in your exact situation. So much of the success of your co-parenting relationship is dependent on communication, which also happens to be one of the hardest aspects of co-parenting. Using technology can help you and your ex discuss child-related issues. Websites such as Google Calendar can help you keep track of appointments and events for your child. Other companies such as Our Family Wizard have websites and apps to manage almost everything involved in co-parenting, such as parenting time schedules and expenses.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Aurora-family-law-attorney.jpg-min.jpgNow that the end of fall is nearing, the weeks will start flying by, and the winter holidays will be here before you know it. While this time of the year is for celebrating, it can prove to be a difficult time for many families, especially for children whose parents no longer live together. Every parent wants to spend special days and holidays with their children, but the reality of co-parenting is that there will more than likely be situations in which your children will be with their other parent instead of with you. Parenting time schedules are often different during the holidays, and adjusting them can be difficult. Here are a few common ways parents can split parenting time during the holiday season:

  • Change holidays every other year: One of the most common parenting time agreements is having the children spend holidays every other year with each parent. For example, if the kids spend Thanksgiving with their mother this year, then the next year they would spend that holiday with their father. This ensures that not more than one year passes before a parent can spend a holiday with their child.

  • Split the holiday in half: Another popular parenting time agreement during the holidays is to split the day between both parents. This can be beneficial for parents who both want to spend time with their kids on one day, but it also requires proper planning to ensure each parent actually has adequate time with the children.

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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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DuPage County parenting time lawyer for right of first refusalThe relationship between a child and his or her parents is something that is crucial to the healthy emotional development of the child. The majority of parents want to be there for their child’s special moments and spend as much time with them as possible during their childhood. When parents are going through a divorce, the time spent with their child often becomes a highly contested issue upon which many parents cannot easily agree. Studies show that children do best when they form a bond with both their mother and father, which is why Illinois encourages parents to have shared parenting time. Something that is known as the right of first refusal (ROFR) can be a bonus for parents who split parenting time with their ex-spouses.

Illinois Parenting Time

In Illinois, the court strongly encourages parents to come to an agreement on parenting time schedules on their own. When parents both draft a personalized timetable and agree to it, they are more likely to adhere to the schedule. If they are unable to come up with a parenting plan, the court will make a decision as to how parenting time is allocated. Unless there is evidence that dual parenting time would be harmful to the child, the court will award visitation time to both parents.

What Is the Right of First Refusal?

If the court allocates parenting time, it will also determine whether or not to award the right of first refusal to either parent. The right of first refusal means that if one parent cannot care for the child during his or her designated parenting time, that parent must first offer the other parent the right to care for the child during that time. This right would apply in instances when the parent would seek substitute childcare for a significant period of time.

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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 parenting plan divorce attorneyWith kids getting out of school and the weather warming up, June marks the unofficial start to summer. For many people, this means more time for family bonding and vacations, but for families with divorced parents, it can be a stressful time of adjustment. Having a child and being divorced means there is typically a set schedule specifying when a child will be with which parent, but that same timetable during the school year will not necessarily work over summer break. In order to make your and your child’s summer as carefree as possible, here are a few tips for successful co-parenting during the summertime months:

  1. Plan Ahead and Communicate

The key to minimal conflict is to plan your summer in advance as much as possible and keep your ex-spouse in the loop. Try to talk with your ex beforehand and come up with a plan of how you would like to split parenting time during the summer. If you decide to play it by ear, be sure to let your co-parent know of any vacations that you plan on taking or any other activities in which your child will be participating.

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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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