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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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.

Source:

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

Posted on in Visitation

parenting time, visitation, DuPage County family law attorneyFor many years in Illinois, the parental right to reasonable visitation has been fiercely protected by law. While a court could restrict or limit visitation to protect the child, it would take an extremely serious set of circumstances to completely terminate such rights of a parent. Thanks to a measure passed in Illinois this past year, parents will no longer be considered to have so-called “visitation” with their children. Instead the term to be used will be “parenting time,” more accurately representing the inherent responsibilities.

Changes in Child Custody Laws

The shift from visitation to parenting time is part of an overall larger transformation of the state’s child custody provisions. Concepts of sole and joint custody are being eliminated in favor of a much more cooperative idea of allocated parenting responsibilities. Child custody, as it currently exists, was often a major point of contention for divorcing, separated, or unmarried parents, as many seemed fixated on “winning” or “losing” a custody battle. By focusing on actual parenting responsibilities rather than titles or statuses like custodial and non-custodial parent, the well-being of the child is more likely to remain the top priority.

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Posted on in Visitation

drug abuse, parenting responsibilities, DuPage County family law attorneyAs you may be already aware, beginning in 2016, the excessive use and abuse of drugs and alcohol will no longer be separately recognized as grounds for divorce. The dissolution process itself must be based on irreconcilable differences, essentially making every divorce officially a no-fault situation. However, even without making drug abuse the basis for the divorce, a large number of couples, and parents, in particular, are affected by the destructive, chemical-related behavior of one party. It is important to understand that drug abuse can and will continue to impact, arrangements regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Following a divorce or the break-up of unmarried parents, you and the other parent will be expected to reach a workable agreement regarding the parental responsibilities for your child. Before it will be approved, however, the court must examine the terms of the agreement and determine that they are reflective of the child’s overall best interests. If the agreement is not approved, or if you and the other parent cannot develop one together, the court will decide how parental responsibilities will be decided. In doing so, the court must take into account the various factors at work in the relationship and establish an arrangement that will meet the child’s needs.

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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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first refusal, illinois law, DuPage County Family Law AttorneyIf your parenting time with your child is regulated by a child custody agreement, you probably consider the time spent with your children to be very special. This may be particularly true if you are not the primary residential parent, as your interaction with your children may feel somewhat—if not severely—limited. A provision in Illinois law, however, may offer parents a way to get extra time with their children in certain situations by allowing the courts to include the right of first refusal in child custody orders.

Right of First Refusal Defined

The right of first refusal provision was added to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage act in 2014. When the right of first refusal is included in a custody or visitation order, it requires a parent needing child-care for an extended period of time to offer the other parent the opportunity to care for the child. Such an offer would temporarily override the existing visitation or parenting time schedule, in effect, allowing the other parent extra time with the child. The right of first refusal does not require the other parent to accept the offer; it only requires that the offer be made.

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child custody, divorce, parenting time, visitation, paternity, evaluator, guardian ad litemIf you are engaged in a divorce case where child custody is being determined, you may have an evaluator appointed for the case. These individuals tend to be appointed in cases where parenting time, paternity, guardianship, or child custody are the primary issues. The court will use evaluators in these scenarios to assist with a final decision.

How you communicate with the evaluator can have an impact on your case, which is why it’s important to be aware of your interaction with this individual. You can be more informed by working with your divorce attorney in advance to understand the purposes of an evaluator appointment and how these meetings typically unfold. Your personal attorney is not involved in the evaluation process, but he or she can present you with important information about preparing for your own meetings with this individual. By knowing what evaluators look for and how they arrive at decision, you will feel more confident about your interaction and be able to work towards your family goals in an effective manner. You may be asked to provide references to an evaluator, for example. Working with your attorney beforehand can help you pinpoint references that could aid in your case so that you have your ducks in a row if the evaluator asks. Being organized and prepared can go a long way towards increasing your confidence and ensuring that your interaction goes smoothly. You should always think carefully before sending emails or making phone calls to an evaluator. Speaking with your attorney about the best way to work with such a professional is a good approach. If you are entering a divorce case or discussing modified parenting time, you need an attorney who can help prepare you for working with an evaluator. Contact an Illinois family law attorney today to learn more.

Despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the custody case involving a 4-year-old Native American girl referred to as “Baby Veronica”, motions and more motions continue to be filed in state supreme courts, county courts and tribal courts.

In 2008, Christy Maldonado was briefly engaged to Dusten Brown. Brown is a member of the Cherokee nation and lives in Oklahoma. Shortly after Maldonado became pregnant, the two ended the relationship. In May 2009, a few months before Baby Veronica was born, Maldonado sent Brown a text asking if he would rather pay child support or relinquish his parental rights. He responded, via text, that he relinquished his rights.

With the help of a private adoption agency, Maldonado agreed to let a South Carolina couple adopt the baby. Matt and Melanie Capobianco were also present at the baby’s birth. When she was four months old, the Capobiancos served Brown with a notice of the pending adoption.

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LisetteDivorce is never an easy process. It is one, of course, made all the more difficult when the divorcing couple has children—and there are plenty of studies that point to the detrimental effects that divorce can have on kids. In March, the Huffington Post reported on a study conducted by the University of Toronto that found that “children of divorce are more likely to start smoking than those who grow up with married parents.” This especially affected women; women whose parents were divorced while they were growing up are nearly 40 percent more likely to take up smoking than women who were raised in families with married parents. Another study, reported by US News and World Report in March found that “children of religious couples are much more likely to leave the religion if their parents get divorced.” This study, while demonstrating that children with religious parents are less likely to remain religious after their parents’ split, did not find a link between the loss or presence of religion in kids whose parents were not already religious.

Yet there are some studies that demonstrate that staying in an unhealthy or unhappy marriage could be more detrimental to children than divorce.  According to Psychology Today magazine, Dr. Robert Emery, in his book The Truth About Children and Divorce, writes, “that in cases where the parents do argue often, divorce can actually be a relief to the children because they no longer have to live with all the tension they had experienced.”

From this perspective, you could be doing your children a favor if you divorce if the fighting between you and your (soon-to-be-ex) spouse is reaching a breaking point.  According to a different Psychology Today article, there are several things to you can do to help your children handle the divorce. One of the most important is, despite an inability to put aside differences for other reasons, to present a unified front to your kids and to not pit the other parent against the children. According to Psychology Today, it’s important to remember to “make a point of telling your child a few good things about the other parent,” and “get on the same page… about all rules concerning the children.”

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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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