Tag Archives: Hinsdale custody attorney

IL custody lawyerAnytime two people go to court over a dispute regarding the care and custody of minor children, the court must carefully assess what is best for the child. Although the vast majority of parents truly want what is best for their kids, reasonable people can certainly disagree about what is indeed the best thing. Jealousy, anger, resentment, and any number of other hostile emotions are frequently at play in a divorce or separation case, so it is not uncommon for the court to find it difficult to ascertain what is really going on outside of court. This is where a guardian ad litem (GAL) comes in. The GAL does not represent the parties, so if you need representation, you should speak to an experienced family law attorney near you right away.

Understanding the Role of the GAL

No matter how good of a parent you think you are, remember that the judge does not know you personally. He or she must rely on what you and your spouse (or your respective attorneys) tell the court. Because the judge’s primary concern is protecting minor children, the judge will want to get a glimpse into the home life, parenting, and other elements that may make a difference. A court-appointed guardian ad litem acts as the eyes and ears of the court. The GAL will typically speak to each parent separately and find out as much as possible about their point of view, what they want for the child, and how they propose to handle issues that may arise. The GAL will also speak to the child, assuming the child is old enough to communicate. The GAL then prepares a report to the judge, which summarizes the GAL’s findings, opinions, and recommendations.

Confusion About the GAL’s Position

Many people get confused about the various attorneys and representatives that can be involved in a child custody dispute. Section 5/506(a) of the Illinois Family Code sets forth the obligations and responsibilities of GALs, as well as other representatives. For instance, in a child custody dispute, there may be up to three additional individuals involved in the process, beyond the attorneys representing the parents. These may include:

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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 divorce lawyerAdhering to a parenting plan is crucial for the wellbeing of your child. When the other parent decides to violate that plan by dropping off your child late or refusing to return your child to you, it becomes necessary to take legal action. Children need structure for proper development and growth, and violating a parenting plan is not only unfair to you, but denying your child this crucial structure is downright harmful.

How Violating the Parenting Plan Increases Hostility and Distrust Between Divorced Parents

There are many reasons why separated or divorced parents hold onto their anger or cannot forgive each other. One study found that social network disapproval toward the other parent (friends disapprove of the other parent) increases co-parenting conflict. Other contributing factors to continued hostility after the divorce or separation is in the past, like “trash talking” the other parent in front of the children, often include infidelity during the relationship and continued poor communication after the marriage or relationship has terminated.

However, one of the greatest sources of conflict between divorced or separated parents is caused when one, or both, parents violate the parenting plan. Dropping the children off late or refusing to make compromises are examples of how a parent may try to gain leverage or assert their authority over the other parent. This comes at a great cost to the children, who inevitably suffer emotional trauma at the expense of being in the middle of a game of tug-of-war between their parents. It is essential to take legal action when you believe the other parent is violating the terms of the parenting agreement.

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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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IL divorce lawyerWith summer right around the corner and school just weeks away from being over, your parenting plan needs to be discussed with your child’s other parent. Summer parenting time is different than during the school year for the obvious reason that your child now has a lot more free time. First of all, the parenting plan needs to define when the summer schedule will start and end. Do not assume that it starts on the last day of school and ends on the first day of school in the fall.

Vacation Time

Seventy-two percent of American families take summer vacations. As such, a parenting plan should clearly lay out the dates of planned vacations, which need to be discussed and agreed upon by both parents beforehand. To keep things fair, and to ensure that one parent does not monopolize on time with their child by taking an extra long vacation, trip times should remain equal or as close to equal as feasible. Or, the non-traveling parent should be awarded make-up days at the end of the vacation if they do not plan to take one themselves.

Traveling Out of State and Out of the Country

Unless the parenting plan specifically states that children cannot be taken out of the country or state, you do not need to worry about where your vacation is limited to. However, it is particularly important for long trips or overseas trips with various destinations for the traveling parent to give dates, locations, hotel phone numbers, and other information to the other parent. Furthermore, if you believe there is a risk that the other parent will simply vanish out of the country with your child, you need to contact an attorney to rewrite the parenting plan to ban overseas travel.

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