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DuPage County parenting plan lawyerA divorce is never a walk in the park. However, if you and your spouse have children, it can make the ordeal even more complex. In Illinois, you are required to create a parenting plan that describes how you and the other parent will take care of your kids after your divorce is finalized. Including the right elements is critical to promoting your children’s well-being, and it can also help you maintain a positive co-parenting relationship with your former spouse.

Elements You Must Include in Your Parenting Plan

According to Illinois law, there are certain elements that should be included in your parenting plan, including:

wheaton divorce lawyerThe birth of a child is often cause for celebration, and many parents find that their relationship grows stronger as they work together to raise their child. Unfortunately, however, some parents decide that their marriage is no longer working soon after their child is born. Getting a divorce when you have an infant or toddler can be especially hard, and it is important to think carefully about your child’s needs and best interests as you work to resolve divorce issues.

How Does Divorce Affect Infants and Toddlers?

Children under the age of three will not understand the reasons for a divorce, and research suggests that they may not even form lasting memories of the events surrounding the divorce. However, because these years are so important to a child’s development, divorce can still affect them significantly. Hurtful conflict between parents and constant interruptions to the child’s routine can cause trauma with effects that resurface as the child gets older. There may also be more immediately noticeable effects. For example, your child may become more dependent on you or the other parent or regress in their development with regard to sleep routines and potty training.

Parental Responsibility and Child Support Considerations

Often, the best way to support your infant or toddler throughout the divorce process is to commit to working together with your spouse to create a parenting plan that considers their best interests. Consistency is especially important for young children, so it may be best to create a parenting time schedule in which your child mostly stays with one parent while the other parent has scheduled visitation time.

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DuPage County family lawyerUPDATE: This post was originally published in March 2015. Since January 1, 2016, Illinois law no longer uses the terms "custody" and "visitation" to refer to arrangements between a child's legal parents. Instead, in a divorce, both parents are usually granted a share of parenting time, meaning that the child will spend significant time living with both parents. This language treats parents more equally, but one parent may still have a larger share of parenting time based on the child's best interests. Additionally, parenting time can be restricted for a parent who endangers a child's health or well-being.

The term "visitation" is still used for grandparents, siblings, and other relatives who seek to secure the legal right to spend time with a child. However, legal action of this nature is usually only warranted when the child's parents are preventing a relative from seeing the child, and there is evidence that doing so is causing the child harm. If you are seeking visitation as a grandparent or another relative, you will need to demonstrate to the court that your visitation is in the child's best interests.

For legal assistance with your parenting time or visitation case, contact the Wheaton, IL family law attorneys at Davi Law Group today by calling 630-580-6373.

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DuPage County parenting plan attorneysDuring the divorce process, parents have many important decisions to make regarding their children, especially when it comes to their living arrangements. Perhaps the most notable decision is how parenting time will be allocated between the two parents, but there are other important details to figure out as well. Some of these include how parents will handle transportation between homes, as well as traveling with their children.

Including Transportation Provisions in Your Parenting Plan

In Illinois, transportation arrangements for the children between the two parents’ homes are part of the minimum requirements to be included in a parenting plan. While such transportation may require a relatively small time commitment, thoughtful arrangements are crucial in order to ensure smooth exchanges and avoid encroaching on the other parent’s scheduled time. 

One of the most important questions to address is who will be responsible for transporting the children. For example, your plan could state that each parent is responsible for managing transportation at either the beginning or the end of each of their parenting time periods, or that one parent with reliable transportation is responsible for all exchanges. If there has been a history of conflict between you and your former spouse, it may be best for a trusted third party to supervise or manage the children’s transportation. You should also address the location where exchanges should occur. For example, will each parent pick up or drop off the children at the other parent’s home? Or, is it better to plan exchanges at a neutral location such as your children’s school or a point in between each parents’ residences? 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysAs a parent, one of your biggest concerns in the divorce process is likely how the divorce will affect your relationship with your children, especially if they will not be living with you full-time. Fortunately, in most cases the court will try to establish an arrangement that allocates substantial parenting time to both parents, provided that doing so is in the children’s best interests. However, there are circumstances in which parenting time can be restricted, and it is important to understand whether they may apply to your case. 

Reasons for Restricting Parenting Time

The primary reason an Illinois court will order restrictions on parenting time is a finding that time with a parent is likely to put the children’s physical, emotional, mental, or moral health in danger. The decision to restrict parenting time is not taken lightly and requires substantial evidence of dangerous behavior on the part of a parent. Possible behaviors that may be considered to endanger a child’s health include:

  • Abandonment or neglect of the child
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of the child or another person in the household
  • Criminal acts including sex offenses and other violent crimes
  • Substance abuse that interferes with parenting abilities
  • Relationships with other people who pose a danger to the child
  • Attempts to interfere with the other parent’s access to the child

In some cases, restrictions are included in the initial allocation of parenting time established during the divorce process. In other cases, events after the divorce necessitate restrictions or conditions on parenting time. This could be the case if new evidence comes to light, new behavior surfaces, or a parent violates or abuses the parenting time order. 

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