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Lombard, IL divorce attorney parenting time

Divorce may be difficult for children of any age, but it can be especially confusing for toddlers who cannot fully understand their parents’ separation and the reasons for the change in their routine. If you decide to get a divorce while your children are still very young, you should be aware of the effects it may have on them and do everything you can to make the transition easier for them and continue providing them with a happy and healthy life.

Effects of Divorce on Young Children

Due to the stresses placed on your toddler both during and after your divorce, you may see some concerning changes in his or her behavior, including:

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Wheaton divorce attorney mediation

Many divorcing couples recognize that although it is no longer the right decision for them to stay married, they both continue to share the goal of providing the best possible life for their children. This desire to co-parent effectively can be a major motivating factor toward pursuing a cooperative divorce, rather than allowing the process to devolve into destructive conflict. If you and your spouse are hoping to work together to establish a parenting plan that works for everyone in your family, divorce mediation may be the right choice for you.

Why Is Divorce Mediation Beneficial?

In divorce mediation, you and your spouse are able to make your own, cooperative decisions regarding the terms of your divorce. A neutral mediator guides the process so that discussions stay on track and both spouses have the opportunity to voice their perspectives. If mediation works for you, you may be able to reach a faster resolution and reduce expenses when compared to a trial, and you are also able to keep your divorce proceedings out of the public eye. Mediation can resolve a variety of issues in your divorce, including the division of property and spousal support, but it can be especially helpful for child custody and visitation.

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DuPage County divorce attorney parental relocation

During your divorce process, you likely devoted significant time and energy to establishing a parenting plan that was suitable to you and your ex-spouse and addressed your children’s best interests. However, as your children get older and all of your living situations change, it is sometimes necessary to revisit and modify your parenting plan to meet your current needs. One of the biggest changes that can affect a parenting plan is the relocation of one of the parents. If you or your ex are planning a major move, you should consider how you will need to modify your parenting plan to accommodate this substantial change in circumstances.

Modifying Your Parenting Plan After Relocation

It is important to note that when divorced parents share custody of their children, one of them may not simply move at any time. The relocating parent must provide the other parent with reasonable notice, usually at least 60 days, of his or her intent to move. Even then, the other parent can object, in which case, there will be a court hearing to determine whether the relocation will be permitted. One of the most important factors the court considers is the impact the relocation will have on the existing parenting agreement.

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DuPage County parenting time attorney

The dissolution of a marriage not only affects the divorcing couple but also any children in the family. Divorce often creates new living situations due to new jobs for the parents, which can result in a different school environment for kids. In some cases, one of the divorcing parents may move out of the family’s town or even out of the state. If you are facing a long-distance relationship with your child, speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney to learn about your rights and options and how a parenting plan can resolve these important issues.

What Is a Long-Distance Parenting Plan?

During a divorce, there are many details to sort out, and a divorce with children in the picture can be even more complex. The important child-related matters that parents will need to address include parenting time (formerly known as visitation) and the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody).

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Lombard, IL holiday parenting plan attorney

For most people, holidays are spent with relatives and friends. This may include large gatherings with extended family members or a small celebration reserved for parents to spend time with their children. Regardless of your family holiday traditions, they typically include time spent with your kids. This may seem like second-nature to married couples; however, those parents who are recently divorced must learn how to navigate these special days differently. To ensure that both parents can have quality time with their kids, it may be necessary to adjust parenting schedules during the holidays.

What Is Considered a “Holiday” By the Court?

It can be difficult for the court to address specific holidays, since they can vary based on families’ traditions and religious beliefs. However, there are guidelines provided to help those formulating parenting plans pin down what they consider a holiday. Thanksgiving and Christmas may be the two that come to mind, but there are various other holidays throughout the year that divorcing couples must consider. Holidays that result in three-day weekends, such as Labor Day and Memorial Day, can be listed as holidays in your parenting plan. Because the children are off of school, this can allow parents to spend extra time with their kids. 

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When Can I Adjust My Parenting Plan?In every divorce involving children, parenting plans must be formulated. Parenting plans, commonly known as custody arrangements, divide responsibilities between each parent. They define responsibilities such as the time each parent is scheduled to spend with their child, who should be the one taking the child to medical visits, and which house the child will reside in. These are just a few of the many responsibilities required of a parent as well as those that are defined under parenting plans. While parenting plans are legally in place until the child turns 18 years old, it is almost impossible for them to last that long without a need for adjustments – situations change and so do children’s needs. 

Which Situations Warrant an Adjustment?

As with any legally-binding contract, there must be legitimate proof that an adjustment is necessary. Judges do not simply change parenting plans for the convenience of the parent. There are certain situations that will allow, and even prompt, judges to modify a family’s arrangement. The following are common examples:

  • The child is not safe, especially in their residence;
  • A parent is moving or relocating;
  • The child is older and has asked for adjustments to be made;
  • A parent’s work schedule has changed, affecting their ability or flexibility to care for the child;
  • The family’s situation has changed, specifically their financial stability; and/or
  • Their current arrangement is not being followed.

Some families have a combination of the circumstances mentioned above, while others have different reasons altogether. Regardless, each decision is situational and is dependent on the child’s best interests.

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Lombard family law attorneyIf you are a parent who is getting divorced or planning to, you are probably concerned about how you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will raise your children. If you plan on raising the kids together through a shared parenting scenario, you should know that there are some unique methods of co-parenting which have helped many families. These growing trends offer an alternative to traditional post-divorce living situations.

Nesting Arrangements

The majority of couples who get divorced end up living separately from each other. The most common living arrangement for parents who get divorced is for children to visit each parent at their home. Some experts find this arrangement to be especially burdensome on the children who are splitting their time between two homes. As an alternative, some parents are choosing to use what some call “the bird’s nest” strategy: The children live in one home and the parents take turns living there. For example, a parent may stay with the children one week in the “nest” home and then the other parent comes to stay with the children the following week. When the parents are not at the nest home, they are living in their own individual home. While many find this co-parenting strategy to be effective, it can also be quite expensive since it usually requires the couple to finance a third home for the children.

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Illinois family law attorneysThe decision to divorce is not one that is made easily. This is especially true for those that have children who are sure to be impacted by the complex process. To bring awareness to the struggles that children face in divorce and to help parents better understand how they can improve their child’s ability to cope and adjust, The Child of Divorce—an advocacy group for children—has created and recently released an emotional but educational video. The topics discussed in the video are extremely relevant to many families and provide tips that parents can use during their divorce.

A Child’s View of Divorce

Parents are often—and understandably—shaken, troubled, and possibly even shocked by the changes that divorce brings. Children experience many of these very same emotions but in a very different way. They often feel that the very foundation of their world is crumbling. All that was once stable, safe, and secure is changing, and they have no control or say over the matter. Yet they still feel a strong attachment to both parents. When the parties become more focused on “winning,” and less on the emotions and well-being of their children, young ones can feel as though they are being asked to choose. No child should ever be placed in this position.

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Lombard family law attorneysWhen you share parenting responsibilities for your child with your former partner, things are not always going to be easy. You will almost certainly experience disagreements with the other parent over a variety of concerns including the child’s activities, your relationship with the child, and your ability to properly exercise your parenting time. Regardless of the difficulties, however, it is very important for you to continue following any orders entered by the court so that you do not put your parental rights in jeopardy.

Components of a Parenting Plan

Following a divorce or breakup of unmarried parents, arrangements must be made for the couple’s child or children. To facilitate the process, the law requires the parents to submit a proposed plan regarding each parent’s responsibilities for the child. Each parent may submit a separate proposal or they may develop one together. A parenting plan must contain a number of other elements, but the most important considerations include the allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities and a parenting time schedule. Once a parenting plan has been approved by the court and entered as an order, both parents must abide by its terms.

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Lombard family law attorneysAt the beginning of 2016, sweeping amendments to Illinois state law changed the terminology and application of child-related matters during divorce. Child custody became known as the allocation of parental responsibilities and visitation was renamed as parenting time. These changes are meant to reduce contention, preserve family bonds, and keep children at the center of divorce proceedings. Understand how this may affect your case, and how you can effectively navigate the process.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities in Illinois

Under the new provisions, decision-making regarding where a child will go to school, what church they will attend, where the child will reside, if and when they should have certain medical or surgical procedures, and other important decisions are known as the allocation of parental responsibilities. It may be split equally among parents, or the most authority may go to the parent that has the greatest amount of parenting time. Alternatively, there are situations in which the parent with the least amount of parenting time will have the most decision-making power. Essentially, the circumstances are as varied as each individual family.

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Lombard family law attorneysCreating a parenting plan following a divorce can be a challenge, especially when you and your spouse cannot see eye-to-eye on the arrangements. The role of a professional, certified mediator can be extremely helpful as you piece together the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation), but what happens when the parenting plan you work so hard to negotiate falls apart down the road or causes continual conflict?

When assessing your current parenting plan and whether or not it would benefit from certain modifications, consider the following:

  • Are your children content with existing visitation patterns? If your child is demonstrating any resistance or is showing any signs of emotional distress while sharing time with either parent, it is wise to reassess and consider whether or not the current parenting time schedule is conducive to your family’s needs and general well-being; and
  • Has tension between you and your spouse escalated recently? If you are experiencing more conflict than usual between you and your spouse or within the family circle, it might be time to re-evaluate your dynamic and current parenting plan arrangements. While some conflict can be brought on due to external family changes, such as school or job performance, or a new significant other stepping onto the scene, some conflict cannot be resolved by time or circumstantial change. It might be time to seek professional assistance to ensure your parenting plan is as efficient--and healthy--as it can be for your entire family.

How the State Can Help

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Lombard family law attorneyMany divorced or separated parents often struggle with their new reality of limited time with their children. This is quite often the case for a parent who has been granted a relatively lesser amount of parenting time compared to the other. While you may understand logically that creating an equal parenting time schedule is not truly possible in most cases, knowing that does not make it any easier to be away from your children. There is a way, though, to include extra possible parenting time in your agreement with your ex. It is called the right of first refusal and, when utilized properly, this right can offer both parents and the child substantial benefits.

Understanding First Refusal

When you have precious little time with your child, you may be looking for any and all possible ways to see him or her more often. Changing permanent arrangement or schedule can be rather complicated, but including the right of first refusal is fairly simple. When the right of first refusal is part of your parenting agreement, it means that your child’s other parent is required to offer you the chance to care for the child when he or she would otherwise need to make other childcare arrangements. In short, this means additional parenting time opportunities for you. As the name implies, you have the right to refuse the opportunity, but if parenting time is at a premium, may be unlikely to turn down such a chance.

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co-parenting, Lombard family law attorneyIf you are a parent, the decision to divorce your spouse or to break up with your child’s other parent will have an effect on more than just the two of you. Your children and the stability of their lives are also likely to be greatly impacted. While things may never be the same for your children as they were during your marriage, it does not mean things will necessarily be worse, just different. As you and the other parent look toward the future, there are some things you can do to help build a positive foundation for co-parenting together for years to come.

Find Common Ground

Every element of effective co-parenting is dependent upon your ability to communicate with your child’s other parent, despite the issues that may have driven you apart. More than likely, the two of you still have a great deal in common, and, at the very least, you both want what is best for your child. Using that as a basis, begin developing a parenting plan around the elements upon which you can agree, including who will be responsible for the majority of the parenting time, which school your child will attend and other fairly straightforward considerations.

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remarried, Lombard family law attorneyThere are many reasons why it may be difficult for you to see your former spouse on the verge of getting remarried. Some, of course, may be mostly nostalgic—a longing for the "good old days" when you were blissfully happy together. Others may be based on jealousy, if you are being honest with yourself. Your ex has found someone that is not you, and no matter what occurred between the two of you, being replaced hurts. Finally, there may be more practical concerns for you regarding the upcoming nuptials of your ex-spouse, especially if you have children.

No Right or Wrong Answers

The most important thing for you to remember as you think about the impact of your ex’s remarriage on your children and parenting arrangements is that there is no manual for dealing with the issues. Changes are almost certain but they do not need to be seen as negative. As long as you and the other parent can communicate and cooperate, you can continue to provide for your child’s best interests, allowing him or her to benefit from the addition of a stepparent. You will need to find a solution or approach that meets the unique needs of your family, allowing all parties to remain involved as a valuable component of the process.

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parenting plan, cooperation, Lombard family law attorneyFor the last several months, posts on this blog have discussed at length a number of changes being effected in the state of Illinois, particularly as they relate to divorce and family law concerns. Most of the updates are intended to facilitate and encourage a more amicable divorce process, which is beneficial not only to the spouses themselves, but to any others who may be affected, most especially children. A divorce or separation in which contentiousness and acrimony can be minimized often allows for a much more stable future, free from most divorce-related grudges and hurt feelings. While encouraging reasonable negotiation between divorcing couples of all types, the new law expects active cooperation from parents, in particular, requiring them to be more a part of the decision-making process than ever before.

New Year, New Outlook

Prior to the new laws taking effect at the beginning of 2016, parents going through a divorce were often left to fight over who would provide what for their children. Too often, the battle over sole or joint custody could turn ugly, leaving the child caught directly in the middle. Going forward, however, the law explicitly requires the parties to a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities—the new name for child custody in Illinois—to submit to the court a proposed parenting plan within 120 days. Such a plan, which may be developed separately by each parent or negotiated jointly, must include a number of elements necessary to ensure the child’s best interests are being met.

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