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According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, there has been an increase in unmarried but cohabiting parents over the last two decades. Since 1997, the number of cohabiting parents has risen to 35 percent. The practice of cohabitation prior to, or rather than, marriage has become a practice popular with the millennial generation. The reasons for the rise are primarily economic, plus the desire to avoid the constraints of a legally binding marriage. The practice of cohabitation has some similarity to the old tradition of common law marriage. This was the practice of two individuals cohabiting together and, in some cases, enjoying the rights and benefits of marriage, but without official recognition from the state.

Does a common law marriage, or a cohabiting couple, get the same rights as a legal marriage, and what rights does a cohabiting parent have if a separation occurs?

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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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DuPage County divorce attorneys, shared parenting, contentious divorce, parental responsibility, parenting timeThe end of a long-term relationship is difficult for everyone involved, but children of divorcing parents are often hit the hardest as they experience major changes to their lives and routines. A contentious divorce can have especially negative effects on children, including long-term health problems and psychological issues. However, even if parents are unable to agree on many of the various issues that must be settled during their divorce, they should consider their children’s best interests when making decisions about the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time.

Research Shows the Benefits of Shared Parenting

Throughout the 20th century, many experts believed that children of divorced parents needed the stability of living in a single home rather than dividing time between parents. Divorce decrees typically reflected this, with one parent (usually the mother) being granted sole custody of children, and the other parent receiving limited visitation time. However, these types of arrangements no longer reflect the reality of modern parenting, in which both mothers and fathers are often highly involved in their children’s lives.

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, parental alienation, children and divorce, Wheaton divorce lawyer, parental responsibilityThe end of a marriage can be very difficult for everyone involved, but children are often especially negatively affected during this emotional time. During divorce, it is important to protect children’s best interests, and they should be able to maintain a positive relationship with both parents.

Unfortunately, conflicts between spouses often spill over into their children’s lives. Whether parents involve children in these conflicts intentionally or unintentionally, they can cause serious harm to their children when they do so.

Types of Parental Alienation

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Illinois child support law, Wheaton child support lawyer, parental responsibility, parenting time, modifying child supportThe Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has undergone significant changes in recent years. In 2016, the law was changed to reflect the state of modern parenting by replacing terms like “custody” and “visitation” with “parental responsibility” and “parenting time.”

In 2017, the law saw another major revision that completely redefined how child support payments are determined in Illinois.

Following this change, which went into effect on July 1, 2017, child support is no longer calculated using only one parent’s income. Now, the net income of both parents will be considered, and the amount of each parent’s parenting time and parental responsibility may also have an effect on the amount of child support owed by one parent to another.

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