Tag Archives: allocation of parental responsibilities

IL family lawyerChild custody is one of the most highly disputed issues of any divorce. It is also one of the most misunderstood. Parents often enter into child custody hearings thinking that a judge will award them sole child custody, based on their gender, or the fact that their child prefers to live with them. Other times, parents think that when they are not satisfied with the judge’s decision, they can make a motion to modify the order right away.

These are just two of the most common misconceptions about child custody. If you are going into child custody hearings, it is important that you know the facts about this legal issue, so you can better understand what to expect. Below are six facts to keep in mind throughout your divorce case.

Child Custody Decisions Are Always Based on the Best Interests of the Child

A judge will consider many factors when making a decision on child custody, and they all reflect the best interests of the child. These factors are identical in all child custody cases. While the preference of the child is one of these factors, it is never the sole deciding factor. A judge will also only consider the preferences of the child when they are of a certain age and maturity to make such preferences known.

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IL divorce lawyerAll parents want to spend as much time as they can with their child, and that feeling continues even after divorce. In an effort to gain the most time possible though, parents often make mistakes that can actually hurt their child custody case and result in less time with their children. Below are some of the biggest mistakes made in these cases, as well as some tips on how to help you secure the most favorable outcome possible.

Parenting Less While Working More

Divorce is costly, and you may have many more expenses now or in the immediate future that you did not just a few months ago. Due to this, you may be tempted to put in more hours at work, but that is a mistake. The court wants to see that you are making an effort to be a large part of your child’s life and if you are working 60 hours a week, it could indicate that work is a bigger priority for you. This is not to say that you cannot work or even be extremely dedicated to your job. It only means that you should make a conscious effort to make plenty of time for your child, too.

Doing Only Fun Stuff

Parenting involves a lot of fun times and a lot of hard times, and it is important that you are there for all of them. If you are only interested in seeing your child when it is time to go to a baseball game or head out for ice cream, and you do not want to care for them when they are sick or get up in the middle of the night, it can hurt your child custody case. The court also wants to know that you are going to make any time with your child a priority, not just the fun times.

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IL divorce lawyerParenting plans are documents that outline the role each parent will have in their child’s life after divorce, and the responsibilities they carry. When parents cannot come to an agreement, a judge will issue a parenting plan. In either case, an agreement is legally binding once it is issued or approved by a judge. It is common to have questions about parenting plans, as they are not something many people have dealt with prior to divorce. Below are the answers to some of the most common questions people have about these plans.

What Should You Include in a Parenting Plan?

Even when you can agree with your spouse about a parenting plan, there are still certain factors you should include within it. Many people think parenting plans only outline child custody situations, but there is much more to them than that. A parenting plan should always include:

  • The amount of time the child will spend at each parent’s home
  • The manner in which you will communicate with a matter relating to your child
  • How holidays, vacations, and special occasions will be spent
  • Cultural and religious practices important to the parent and/or child
  • The child’s medical needs, and the responsibilities each parent holds for meeting them
  • Where the child will attend schooling
  • The type of lifestyle the child will enjoy
  • Discipline expectations
  • Any special needs of the child
  • The process of modifying the parenting plan, if necessary

When addressing each of these factors, parenting plans must always work in the child’s best interests.

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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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