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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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Naperville divorce lawyers

Going through a divorce is among the most difficult situations a person can endure. While this is true with adults, the impact on a child can last even longer. This is especially the case in high-conflict divorces, which often lead to children experiencing more hardship as they adjust to post-divorce life. 

Whether you are able to reasonably co-exist and work with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, or you cannot stand the sight of them and likely face a prolonged court battle, it is essential to focus on the needs of any children you share. Here are a few tips that will help make their adjustment (and yours) easier:

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Naperville Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is generally more complicated if a couple has children together. A divorce agreement must determine parental custody, visitation, child support, and other matters. Children sometimes have a hard time accepting divorce and all the changes happening in their lives. Acceptance can be even more difficult when one parent relocates after a divorce

Relocation brings its own unique set of challenges. Moving far away after divorce should only be considered if it is absolutely necessary and due consideration has been given to the way it will affect the children and their relationship with both parents. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Naperville Divorce Lawyers

Divorce settlements require careful consideration of many aspects of everyday life. If a couple has children, the divorce process has even more elements to work out, such as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, formerly known for legal purposes in Illinois as child custody and visitation, respectively. 

Parental responsibility and parenting time are top priorities when negotiating a divorce decree. One related aspect is sibling and step-sibling visitation with other children in the family. If divorced parents have multiple children and custody is split between them, the siblings may wish to see one another, but a parent may try to deny visitation. Siblings can petition the court to grant them visitation when a parent denies it. 

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Naperville divorce lawyer electronic parenting timeIt is important to be mindful of your children during the divorce process. Their lives are changing in many different ways, and they need to have some sort of stability during the process. After a divorce has been finalized, and the division of parenting time has been determined, it is important to have a schedule in which a child knows they are going to be able to see their parents at a designated time. 

No matter how devoted a parent is to their child, there may be circumstances beyond their control which do not allow them to be present during their scheduled parenting time. If that is the case, Illinois is a state that allows for electronic parenting time or visitation for parents. Electronic parenting time involves the parent spending time with the child using a video call, a phone call, email, or other messaging system. Modern technology makes it easier than ever for parents to be present in their child’s lives, even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles away, and parents should be sure to understand how best to use these tools to maintain a close connection with their children. 

Who Is Eligible for Electronic Parenting Time?

Not every parent or child will need to use or be eligible for electronic parenting time. This solution should not be used in cases involving abuse or habitual deviance from the schedule that was defined in the divorce decree. Electronic parenting time is typically used under extraordinary circumstances, or when it is in the child’s best interests, such as the following cases:

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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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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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What Should Be Included in a Parenting Plan During Divorce?

DuPage County divorce attorney parenting planWhen parents decide to end their marriage, they must resolve a number of issues related to their children in order to complete their divorce. The decisions they make will be set down in a parenting plan that will be incorporated into their divorce decree. In Illinois divorce cases, a parenting plan should include:

  • Allocation of parental responsibilities - Illinois law identifies four areas of decision-making responsibility for children: education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. A parenting plan will specify whether each of these areas will be shared between parents or allocated to one parent.
  • Parenting time - A parenting plan should contain a specific daily schedule for the time children will spend with each parent. It should also specify how holidays will be divided between parents, along with provisions for how parents will divide vacation time during the summer, winter, and spring breaks from school.
  • Transportation - Parents should determine who will be responsible for transporting children between their homes, to school, or to other activities and include these agreements in the parenting plan.
  • Communication - A parenting plan may include provisions defining when a parent may contact their children during the other parent’s parenting time.
  • Right of first refusal - Parents may wish to agree that if one parent will not be available to care for children during their scheduled parenting time, they must contact the other parent and give them the option of caring for the children before making other arrangements for child care.
  • Contact information - The parenting plan must include both parents’ home addresses and phone numbers, as well as the names, addresses, and phone numbers of their employers. The parenting plan should specify children’s residential address for purposes of school registration, and it should require parents to notify each other about emergencies, health issues, and travel plans.
  • Relocation - A parenting plan should include a requirement that a parent will notify the other parent at least 60 days before moving to a new home.
  • Future modifications - A parenting plan should specify that parents will use mediation to resolve proposed changes to the allocation of parenting time or parental responsibility. The plan may also include provisions for how modifications will be made if certain events occur.
  • Other provisions - A parenting plan can include any other decisions made between parents to protect children’s best interests or encourage parents’ cooperation in raising their children. For instance, it may state that parents are prohibited from drinking alcohol or using drugs during their parenting time.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Illinois law requires parents to submit a parenting plan (either together or separately) within 120 days of filing a petition for the allocation of parental responsibilities. If you need help reaching an agreement on any parenting issues during your divorce, the attorneys of Anderson & Associates, P.C. can work with you and your spouse to resolve outstanding issues and create a parenting plan that protects your rights and meets your children’s needs. Contact a Wheaton divorce lawyer today by calling 630-653-9400 to arrange a free consultation.

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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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Wheaton divorce lawyer, divorce mistakes, divorce process, parenting time, allocation of parental responsibilityWhen spouses decide to end their marriage through divorce, they are likely ready to leave a difficult relationship and move on to the next phase of their lives. However, couples with children will need to resolve a variety of issues, including the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time, and disagreements over these matters can often result in contentious legal battles.

The decisions made during divorce will have a major impact on your and your children’s lives for years to come. Therefore, it is important to protect yourself during this time.

Consider the following mistakes you should be sure to avoid while resolving issues related to children in your divorce:

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DuPage County divorce attorneys, fathers and divorce, divorce process, allocation of parental responsibility, parenting timeWhen parents decide to end their marriage by getting a divorce, decisions about the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time can often become contentious. In the past, it was often expected that the mother would retain primary custody of a couple’s children after divorce, but this is no longer the case.

In today’s culture, fathers often take a much more active role in parenting children and enjoy equal or even primary custody of their children after divorce. By taking the following steps, fathers can improve their chances of positive results in divorce disputes involving children:

  1. Be an involved parent - Take an active role in your kids’ lives, attending school activities and sports events, doctor’s appointments, and parent/teacher conferences, as well as spending quality time with them during your parenting time.

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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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