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Wheaton family law attorneysThe holidays are upon us, which often means special family traditions. After a divorce, however, parents have to share time with their children. This often means also splitting time with extended family members or out-of-town relatives. Maintaining certain traditions or activities can become complicated. For kids who are shuttling between two houses, it is important for both parents to think about their children’s feelings and best interests. They must be willing to compromise when circumstances warrant a change to the routine. In Illinois, a parenting plan can outline a schedule for time with kids during the school year as well as summer or holiday breaks.  

Check Your Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a legally binding document indicating parental responsibilities (child custody), such as decision-making for a child and the parenting time (visitation) that each parent will have with the child. Most parenting plans will include provisions that address where the child will spend their holidays.

Your parenting plan could specify that your children will alternate years with each parent on major holidays. For example, your plan might indicate that your children will spend Thanksgiving with you and Christmas with the other parent this year, but next year, they will be the other parent for Thanksgiving and with you for Christmas. 

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Wheaton family law attorneyUnder Illinois divorce law, visitation is now referred to as “parenting time.” Virtual visitation is a non-custodial parent’s right to interact with his or her child using a form of electronic technology. Also known as “e-visitation,” this form of communication typically means using a webcam or real-time video such as “FaceTime” for visitation. This is especially useful if a parent and child live in separate states.

Virtual visitation can also encompass the use of additional electronic devices, such as a computer or tablet for e-mailing, sending text or instant messages, etc. This is starting to be regarded as an appropriate form of visitation. It is important to note that it is designed to supplement instead of replace physical custody of the child. 

Advantages to Virtual Parenting Time

In Illinois divorces, parental responsibility is now allocated between each parent, and a reasonable parenting time schedule is determined by the court. The ultimate goal is to allow both parents to be involved in their child’s life as much as possible. 

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Required Elements of an Illinois Parenting Plan

Naperville child custody lawyer parenting planWhen you get a divorce in Illinois, and you have children, you are strongly encouraged to come to an agreement with your spouse about how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be divided between you. The court does not decide these things for you unless you and your spouse cannot come to a mutual agreement (known as a parenting plan), but leaving the decision up to a judge is not always in your family’s best interests. Often, the court will order mediation to assist you and your spouse in coming to an agreement about a parenting plan, which must be filed with the court no longer than 120 days after a petition for the allocation of parental responsibilities is filed. Creating a parenting plan can be tedious, but having all of the right elements in your plan will ensure success when implementing it following the finalization of your divorce.

Court-Required Parenting Plan Elements

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are certain things that must be addressed in a parenting plan. The plan can contain other information pertaining to the care of the children, but it must at least address the following issues:

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5 Tips For Co-Parenting During the Summer Months

Oak Brook divorce attorney co-parenting tipsSummer is every child’s favorite time of the year--they get a break from going to school, waking up early, doing homework, and studying. But for parents, especially divorced parents, summer can prove to be the most challenging time of the year. During the school year, the kids are at school for a good portion of the day, so parenting plans are usually well-regimented and have agreed transition days for kids to move from the care of one parent to the other. But during the summer, everything changes, so it is important to plan ahead to keep the stress at a minimum.

1. Coordinate Your Schedules

While you have likely already scheduled vacation time and trips with your children, you should also work together with your ex-spouse to determine your and your children’s day-to-day schedules. This will help avoid disputes over who gets to spend time with the child and when. Summer months offer more than enough time for everyone to plan their vacations--it is just a matter of coordinating them. 

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How an Equal Parenting Time Law Could Change Divorce Cases in Illinois

Wheaton divorce attorney equal parenting timeDuring divorce, many of the most contentious disputes between spouses involve decisions made about their children, including how they will share parenting time and parental responsibility. For many years, it was presumed that living primarily with one parent was in children’s best interests. However, a number of recent studies have found that it is beneficial for both parents to be closely involved in their children’s lives. With that in mind, many states, including Illinois, have passed or are considering legislation that would presume that children should spend equal amounts of parenting time with each parent following divorce.

Illinois’ Possible Equal Parenting Law

The Illinois House of Representatives is currently considering a bill which would affect the decisions made about parental responsibility and parenting time in divorce cases. HB 4113 would make the following changes to Illinois’ divorce laws: 

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