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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DuPage County divorce attorney child custody

When parents of a child get a divorce in Illinois, they are required to make certain custody decisions for their child. Before they can finalize their divorce, they must come to an agreement on their own or a decision will be made by a judge on issues such as parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities. In most cases, the choices that are made during this period are long-term, life-altering choices that could come with unfavorable consequences. In some cases, concerns about a parent’s mental health may have been brought forward by the other parent or another individual involved or familiar with the case. In these situations, the parent whose mental health is in question will likely be required to undergo some sort of psychological test or mental health evaluation.

Determining the Need for an Evaluation

Not every child custody case will involve mental health evaluations. In cases in which the parents agree on parenting time and parental responsibilities, there is likely no need for a psychological evaluation. However, all decisions made pertaining to the child are based on the child’s best interests. If anyone has concerns about protecting the child’s physical, moral, emotional, or mental well-being, then they can ask the court to require the parent to submit to a psychological evaluation.

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Geneva divorce attorney parenting time

One of the most serious and unfortunately still prevalent social issues that families face today is domestic violence. Dealing with domestic violence in any situation is never simple, but having to cope with domestic violence during a divorce can make the divorce process a million times more stressful. According to information from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than 12 million men and women are affected by acts of domestic violence each year in the United States. Many people believe that domestic violence consists of purely physical acts, such as slapping or choking. However, domestic violence is really about control, rather than pain, so the abuser will often use multiple tactics to control the victim, including other forms of abuse, such as emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or harassment. This is why it is crucial for families experiencing domestic abuse to get help from an experienced Illinois divorce attorney before beginning the process.

Divorce and Child-Related Issues

Like most things during the divorce, issues related to the children are typically settled with an agreement made between the parents. However, in some situations, such as those in which domestic violence is present in the home, the parents may be unable or unwilling to cooperate or come to a consensus with a parenting time plan or allocation of parental responsibilities. This is when a judge will step in and make decisions for the parents in regard to Illinois law and what is in the child’s best interests.

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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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Yorkville divorce attorney parenting time

Two of the most contentious topics in marriage and divorce are finances and children. Tensions often run high when it comes to determining things such as allocating parental responsibilities and parenting time. After all, it is only natural for both parents to want to spend as much time with the child as possible, but after a divorce, it is unlikely that either parent will get as much time with the child as he or she wants. The general consensus is that it is in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents, which is why the default decision for the court is to award parenting time to both parents. However, in some cases, there may be factors present that could cause the courts to restrict parenting time or order supervised visitation. 

What Is Supervised Parenting Time?

In most cases, parenting time is restricted because one parent expressed concern about the well-being of his or her child while under the care of the other parent. The court will order supervised parenting time if it finds evidence to prove that spending time alone with the parent would endanger the child’s physical or mental health or impede the child’s emotional well-being. Supervised parenting time means that a third party “supervisor” must be present during all parenting time. This supervisor can be a professional, such as a social worker or a behavioral specialist, or it can be a friend or a family member. Whoever the supervisor is, the court must approve the person chosen in the parenting time order. The order can also include other requirements such as:

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Batavia divorce attorney child support

In situations where the parents of a child are divorced or no longer in a relationship, child support orders are often entered to ensure that the financial responsibility of raising a child is not left up to only one parent. In Illinois, child support is typically paid by the parent who has a smaller portion of the parenting time. The amount of child support that is paid each month is determined by a formula that takes into consideration each parents’ income, parenting time, how many children you are supporting, and how much supporting your children should cost.

Paying your child support obligation is extremely important, not only for the well-being of your children but also so you can avoid any repercussions for nonpayment. If you do not make your payment, you could face significant consequences such as driver’s license suspension, wage garnishment, tax refund interception, and more. The state of Illinois offers various options for paying your child support so there is a confirmation that you are in compliance with the order and a record for the payment exists.

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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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Aurora parenting time attorney

Depending on where you are in your divorce proceedings, you may not have given much thought about what will happen after everything is said and done. The divorce process usually consumes all of your attention and energy, leaving you little to none to devote to focusing on the future. Most people who file for divorce have a general idea of how the process works, but what they do not know is what happens after everything is over. Life after divorce can be intimidating, but you should also think of it as the beginning of the rest of your life. You may be surprised at what the next chapter holds. 

Expect the Unexpected 

Going through a divorce under any circumstances can be life-changing, but may also be a fresh start. Here are a few things that you may not be expecting after your Illinois divorce:

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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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Kendall County parenting time attorney

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we go about our daily lives in almost every aspect. Many states across the country have closed non-essential businesses, which include dining rooms for restaurants, movie theaters, non-essential retail businesses such as malls and clothing stores, and even many office buildings. These measures have been put into place to try to stop the spread of this new virus, also known as COVID-19. At the time of this writing, the United States has surpassed every other country in the world with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. In Illinois alone, there have been more nearly 6,000 confirmed cases, with 99 deaths reported. Many people have been wondering how this pandemic will affect their family situations, such as parenting time, especially those parents who are divorced with kids who are splitting time between different households.

Understanding Illinois’ Stay-At-Home Order

In an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, many states have also enacted “stay-at-home” orders that prohibit citizens from gathering with other people who are not household members. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide stay-at-home order that started on March 21, stating that individuals should only leave their homes for essential or life-sustaining services. Illinoisians are still permitted to leave their homes for things such as outdoor exercise, going grocery shopping, attending doctor’s appointments, and going to work at an approved essential business.

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North Aurora divorce attorney child issues

Each year, thousands of American children experience their parents' divorce. This can be difficult for many kids to process and understand, and it can lead to other issues that can be of great concern to parents. During a divorce, one of the most common things parents report as being worrisome is how their children will cope. While many children have the ability to adjust to the divorce with supportive parenting and guidance, some kids can still struggle. A child’s difficulty with coping with the divorce can manifest in many ways, some of which can be frustrating or confusing to parents. Here are a few signs that your child is having a hard time accepting your divorce:

  • Behavioral issues: Once of the most common signs that your child is not coping with the stress of divorce is through his or her behavior. If your child is exhibiting behaviors that are out of his or her normal way of acting, he or she may be suffering from the stress of the situation. This can manifest in a child returning to behaviors that he or she had grown out of, such as a school-aged child throwing temper tantrums. Another type of behavioral issue could be a child acting out in school or frequently getting in trouble for misbehavior.

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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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DuPage County parenting plan attorney

Many people who are unhappily married with children worry about how a divorce will affect their kids. Some of them end up “staying together for the kids.” It would be naive of anyone to think that a divorce does not affect your children -- studies show that it clearly does. However, those effects are often short-term concerns that, with proper attention, will eventually dissipate. Staying together for the kids often has a more lasting effect on the children, and it can actually do much more harm than good in the long run. As more information becomes available about the impact divorce has on children, more parents are making the decision to split up for the sake of everyone. After the split, you will notice changes in your children as they try to make sense of the event. The following are three tips for parenting after your divorce that can help you manage this transition. 

Never Make Your Children Choose Between You and Your Ex-Spouse

One of the worst things you can do is to force your children to choose between their parents. Not only is this completely unfair, but it can also be damaging to your kids. Even though you and your spouse are no longer together, you are both still and will forever be parents to your offspring. Your children have the right to maintain close and loving relationships with both of you.

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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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b2ap3_thumbnail_Aurora-divorce-attorney.jpg-min.jpgSocial media is a large part of many people’s everyday lives. With the invention of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it has become easier than ever to keep in touch with the people you care about and connect with new people all over the world. Although social media has its perks, it can also be a nuisance in some people’s lives, especially in delicate situations such as divorce. During your divorce, how you use social media can make or break you. You do not necessarily have to stop using social media completely during your divorce, but you should be very aware of what you post online. Here are a few social media mistakes that you should avoid making at all costs during your divorce:

Do Not Reveal Too Much About Your Life

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to overshare on social media. During a divorce, there are several things that you and your spouse must agree upon, including property division, spousal support, and parenting time. These things can all be negatively impacted if you share contradicting or concerning information on social media during divorce negotiations.

For example, if you claim you need spousal support to survive after your divorce, but you are posting photos of you taking lavish vacations or buying expensive items, your claim could be questioned in court. Posting photos showing you performing illegal or inappropriate acts could cause the court to question your fitness as a parent or could serve as evidence that your spouse could use against you.

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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 time lawyerMost parents will agree that the most important aspect of a divorce is making sure the children are okay. However, many parents worry about how a divorce will affect their children. Therefore, a lot of couples are currently in unhappy marriages in an attempt to spare their children the stress of divorce. It is important to remember that a divorce is the result of an unhealthy relationship between two spouses -- it has nothing to do with their children. While you cannot protect your children from all of the stresses and changes a divorce can cause, you can take steps to make sure your children are protected from the arguments and other negative effects that a divorce can trigger.

Take Care of Yourself

Although it may seem selfish, one of the best things you can do for your children during your divorce is to make sure you take care of yourself before you focus on them. A divorce can be traumatizing and can take its toll on you after a while. You should practice self-care by eating healthy foods, exercising, getting enough sleep, and talking to people in your support system. When you are emotionally stable, you are better able to guide your children through this major life transition.

Do Not Talk Negatively About Your Spouse

You should avoid criticizing or putting down your ex-spouse when your children can hear. Though you may have an issue with your former partner, your children do not. They deserve to have a relationship with both parents that is not clouded by negative opinions from one parent.

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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 divorce child issues lawyerIf you think your divorce is stressful for you, it can be even more taxing on your children. For kids, their parents' divorce is a very confusing and tumultuous time. While it is completely normal for children to be sad, uncertain, or even angry when their parents are going through a divorce, it is important for you to understand that there are things you can do to make the change somewhat easier. Divorce is a process, not only for you but also for your children. Your job as a parent is to help your children through this process so they are able to come out on the other side stronger and more well-rounded individuals.

Breaking the News

Many parents do not know how to talk to their children about divorce, much less how to break the news to them. The way you first tell your kids about your divorce can set the tone for the entire healing process. You should tailor your conversation to your children; if they are younger, it is best to keep the message simple and sweet. If you have older children, you can provide a little more detail, but it is still important to only share the information they need to know.

Helping Them Grieve

For children, a divorce can be a big emotional loss. Your job as a parent is to help your children work through their emotions and go through the grieving process. You should listen to what your children have to say and the worries that they share with you. Acknowledge and validate their feelings by letting them be open and honest with you. Reassure your kids that you and their other parent still love them and will always be there for them, even though you are no longer together as a couple.

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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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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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