Tag Archives: allocation of parental responsibilities

IL custody lawyerOnce upon a time in Illinois, courts mainly called it custody. Other states have different terms, as well. However, in recent years, Illinois law has changed on the subject, and the prevailing concept is to divide parenting time and responsibilities. If you are going through a divorce and have concerns about who will have the majority of the decision-making responsibilities or where the children will spend most of their time, take a deep breath and understand that no two divorce or child custody disputes are the same. Your unique situation may not be as bad as you think. Often, just a half-hour meeting with an experienced Hinsdale family law attorney can ease many of the fears and concerns you have. It is important to understand the difference between how courts now look at it, compared to the previous way.

Custody in the Past

In 2016, Section 5/600 of the Family Code was added, thereby creating something known as parenting allocation. Prior to that time, Illinois law treated the matter as custody. The overall view was that someone had to be named the custodial parent with whom the children would reside for the majority of their time. Then the other parent would be assigned visitation with their children. Unfortunately, although this method was practical, there was a distinct alienating effect to it. After all, who wants to “visit” their children? In the majority of cases where both parents are fit to care for children, this necessarily created a power imbalance or inequality in parenting roles.

Parenting Allocation Explained

Today, Illinois has taken a progressive approach to shared parenting responsibilities. Instead of treating one parent as the primary guardian and the other as a mere visitor, during a divorce or separation, the parties will have to come up with a parenting allocation agreement. If they cannot agree, the court will decide for them and generate a parenting allocation order. This sets forth what responsibilities each party will have, including which responsibilities will be shared. To the extent that parents can agree on how to share time with children and share decision-making, allocation can be quite flexible.

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IL custody lawyerIf you moved out of Illinois after a parenting plan was already in place, or your divorce is ongoing and you plan to move as soon as it is finalized, figuring out how to go about visitation can be difficult due to the physical distance between you and your child. If the original parenting plan is no longer applicable because it was created when you were still in Illinois, you may need to take your case back to court to have a new parenting plan created by a judge if the other parent is not in agreement with your wishes. It is not uncommon for custodial parents to deny you time with your child via phone, internet, or even in-person visits, particularly if you live in another state. A Hinsdale custody lawyer will be able to help you create a new parenting plan and take the matter to court to be approved by a judge if necessary.

Electronic Communication

Skype, Facetime, email, texting, phone calls, and other forms of electronic communication such as social media are often part of a parenting plan, even when both parents live in the same state. When a parent lives out of state, communication by phone and computer become even more important. However, custodial parents may attempt to interfere with your communication and even ban or limit the use of your child’s cell phone or computer. Eighty-eight percent of teenagers aged 13 to 17 have access to a cell phone, though that access may include their parent’s cell phone. Younger children have even more limited access to cell phones, and purchasing a smartphone for your child may be a necessary part of a parenting plan for out of state parents. Regardless of how the other parent is alienating you, it can be addressed by an attorney and brought to a judge’s attention.

Travel Expenses

Plane flights are an expense that keeps many parents from seeing their children as much as they would like. When an out of state parent travels to Illinois to visit their child, they have to take time away from work, purchase a plane ticket, pay for a hotel, and spend additional money on a rental car or other means of in-town transportation. It may make more sense to have your child visit you in addition to visiting them. And, in many circumstances, the custodial parent can be held partially responsible for purchasing the child’s plane ticket. A judge may decide that travel costs should be split evenly by you and the other parent, even if the child is visiting you alone.

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Shared Parenting Greatly Benefits Children of DivorceShared parenting is more than a right that each parent has during a divorce. Numerous studies have concluded that children benefit when both parents take an active role in caring for and raising them. Children of shared parenting agreements:

  • Do better academically and socially;
  • Have fewer issues with depression and anxiety; and
  • Are less likely to develop unhealthy habits, such as drugs and alcohol abuse.

Despite these benefits, some divorcing parents resist the idea of sharing parental responsibilities with their co-parents. Decades ago, the normal parenting arrangement after a divorce was for the children to live with the mother most of the time and have visits with the father on certain weekends. There are several reasons why shared parenting is better for children:

  1. Less Change: Children can feel abandoned if they rarely see one parent after the divorce. It is as though the father left the family instead just divorcing their mother. Shared parenting lets the children know that they still have a family with two parents, the difference being that the parents no longer live with each other.
  2. Continued Bonding: Parents and a child start developing their attachment when the child is an infant, which is why it is important for both parents to hold and care for the child at that age. This bond continues to develop between them during their adolescence and through the teenage years. Having a strong bond with both parents makes children feel more secure and be better capable of healthy relationships with others.
  3. Different Roles: Each parent has a unique perspective and skills that he or she brings to raising the children. Parenting agreements traditionally favor the more nurturing parent, but the children also learn important life lessons from the other parent. One parent may be better at helping the children solve problems or share a common interest with the children that the other parent does not.
  4. Complete Parenting: It is unreasonable to expect one person to take on all the responsibilities of a parent and be as successful as a two-parent household. By dividing parenting time, divorced parents can be more attentive in raising the children. When one parent is unavailable, the other parent can take over and prevent gaps in parenting.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Illinois presumes that each parent has a right has a right to parenting time during a divorce but that an exactly equal division of parenting time is not preferred. A Geneva, Illinois, divorce attorney at Geneva Family Lawyers can help you negotiate a parenting plan that gives you the parenting time that your children need. Schedule a free consultation by calling 331-588-6611.

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How Your Behavior Affects the Allocation of Parental ResponsibilitiesNegotiating the allocation of parental responsibilities may try your emotions more than any aspect of your divorce. You are arguing for the time you get to spend with your children and the role you will play in their lives. A court will assume that you are both entitled to some responsibilities over your children but prefers to give a majority of the responsibility to one of you. The court will award primary responsibility to the parent who can best serve the children’s needs, and your actions during the case can influence a court’s decision. Here are five mistakes to avoid during a case to determine parental responsibilities:

  1. Do Not Assume the Outcome: A mother traditionally keeps the children after a divorce because she is often the primary caregiver. However, the law is supposed to be gender neutral. Mothers who assume that they will receive a majority of the parenting time may appear arrogant or fail to make a strong case. Fathers should not concede their parental rights without an argument because they assume they will lose their cases.
  2. Do Not Make the Case About Yourself: The court’s primary concern is the needs of your children, and each point you make in presenting your case should support that. The court may believe you are selfish if you focus on your desire to have a majority of the parenting time with your children without mentioning why it would be most beneficial to them.
  3. Do Not Behave Vindictively Towards Your Co-Parent: You have a responsibility to inform the court if your co-parent may cause actual harm to your children. However, you should refrain from bringing up your personal grievances with your co-parent. Disagreeing with someone does not make him or her a bad parent. Instead, you will appear bitter and petty, which diminishes you in the eyes of the court.
  4. Do Not Speak For Your Children: You can explain to the court why you are the best choice as the primary parent for your children. However, you should not claim that your children prefer you as the primary parent. You are being unfair to your children by implying that they have a favorite parent.
  5. Do Not Show Too Much or Too Little Emotion: Your behavior during the case should show that you care about your children and that you are a calm and rational parent. Showing too much emotion makes you seem unstable, but showing too little emotion makes you seem callous.

Determining Parental Responsibilities

You can help your case for being the primary parent of your children by showing that you will put their needs ahead of your own. A Kane County family law attorney at Geneva Family Lawyers can help you present an argument for the majority of the allocation of parental responsibilities. Schedule a free consultation by calling 331-588-6611.

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Using a Parenting Agreement to Anticipate ConflictDespite reaching a parenting agreement during their divorce or separation, it is common for co-parents to disagree with each other about parenting decisions afterward. Parents in a high-conflict relationship seem particularly adept at finding topics to argue about. You may wonder how effective your parenting agreement is if you continue to disagree on your parenting schedule and how to raise your children. Co-parents who anticipate continued conflict should create an agreement that is clear in stating how parental responsibilities will be allocated and when it will allow deviations.

Detailed Agreement

Co-parenting conflicts can arise when the language in a parenting agreement is ambiguous. Your co-parent may have a different interpretation of a vague section in the agreement. Even if that interpretation was not your intention when creating the agreement, your co-parent can take advantage of the ambiguity to use it as a defense for his or her actions. A high-conflict parenting agreement can avoid differing interpretations by being detailed, such as stating:

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