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DuPage County parenting time lawyersAs more families work toward amicable splits, the rate of full joint custody has increased. In addition, there are studies that highlight the potential benefits of a near equal time split between parents. Unfortunately, communication between divorcing parties can be stressful, even when both are focused on the well-being and best interests of their children. Gain some helpful tips for minimizing issues (and unnecessary stress) in your joint custody plan in the following sections.

1. Find a Way to Communicate Effectively

Managing a kid’s schedule is difficult enough when working out of one home. Split the bills and responsibilities and things can get downright confusing. Effective communication is the key to reducing stressors while managing schedules during a divorce. You can also incorporate online applications, such as shared family calendars.

2. Be Mindful of Your Ex’s Schedule

Even when things are tense between you and your spouse, you will want to try and be as mindful of their schedule as possible. Show up on time for pick-ups and drop-offs. If an occasional change of plans occurs, be as flexible as possible. In short, focus on being as mindful of your spouse’s schedule as you want them to be of yours.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, sole custodyJoint custody and sole custody are two terms that are commonly discussed during a divorce case when a child is involved. However, many parents are unaware of what each term entails and how each can impact visitation, decision making ability, and support following a divorce.

Joint Custody

The language within 750 ILCS 5/602.1 defines the terms of joint custody in Illinois. Joint custody means that both parents will share custody of the child, but it does not mean that the time spent with each parent must be equal.

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Posted on in Divorce

Under Illinois child custody law, the idea of custody encompasses two sets of rights: physical custody, which is the responsibility for the child’s personal care; and legal custody, which involves making major decisions about the child’s life. Custody can be shared by both parents, or vested only in one parent, depending on what a family law judge decides is best for the child.

For all court decisions relating to children, the central consideration is the best interests of the child. Many factors go into determining the best interests, including the wishes of the child, the wishes of the parents, the quality of the relationship of the child with her parents, siblings, or other close relatives, the child's level of adjustment to her home, community, and school, the mental and physical health of the child and parents, physical violence, threats, or other abuse by the parent, of the child or others, and the willingness of each parent to cooperate to allow for a relationship between the child and the other parent to continue and grow.

The default assumption for courts is that the involvement of both parents is best for the child, but this can be disproven if one parent raises valid concerns about the negative physical, mental, moral, or emotional impact of the other parent on the child. Based on their findings, a court will decide to either grant sole or joint custody over the child.

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joint custody agreementsWhether individual parents originally wanted to share custody with their ex or not, they often find themselves in formal, court-ordered joint custody arrangements. Each parent needs to figure out how to make the best of the situation for themselves and, more importantly, for their children.

Key Points

Figure out the channel of communication that will work best for you and your ex. Phone calls, texts, emails, or even face-to-face meetings (without kids present) are the likely options, but if those do not work, there are other methods to help you, such as computer programs that can help provide a channel of effective communication between you and your ex-spouse. There is simply no way to avoid communication, so consider which of the many options will be the easiest and least stressful way for you and your ex to talk effectively about your child’s life. Effectively communicating with your ex when emergencies arise that will impact your child’s regular schedule will ensure there is no added stress on your child when the change occurs.

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moving child out of stateWhether there is an ongoing custody battle or you and child’s other parent have a long and settled co-parenting relationship, issues may arise regarding attempts to take children out of Illinois. Understanding and abiding by rules set forth in Illinois law can help ensure you do not lose the chance to spend time with your kids.

Vacation Rules

Be sure to look at your own parenting agreement to determine specific rules regarding your right to take your child out of the state on vacation. There is likely a passage in the agreement regarding what to do when you wish to take the child on vacation out of state. Generally, the parent wishing to take the child on vacation needs to give the other parent notice of where they will be going and the trip details. Critical details include an address and telephone number where the child can be reached during the vacation, as well as the date upon which the child will be back in Illinois. In most cases, a parent will not need to petition the court to take a child on vacation out of state so long as the other parent is sufficiently informed.

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parenting time, parenting, children of divorce, child custody, shared parenting, life after divorceA recently published article discussed the problem that some parents face in child custody disputes and the changes that some are calling for in order to level the playing field. Many parents who are involved in divorce cases where children are involved face the possibility of a diminished parent-child relationship. The parent who is not the custodial parent often becomes just a visitor in the eyes of the family. Because of this perceived inequity, many parents who lose out on significant time with their children are trying to make changes to the legal process.

Shared Parenting

Advocates of equal parenting time are trying to get legislation passed that would divide custodial time more fairly between both parents. Their position is that children are better served when they spend equal time with both of their parents. These parents are against laws that would award custody to one parent over another, except in cases where one of the parents is deemed by the court to be unfit. Their proposed legislation would include a clause that mandates both parents get a minimum percentage of parenting time with their children each week.

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Even once child custody is determined, for a divorced couple who both want the best for their children, sharing schedules and determining visitation can be a challenge. This becomes all the more difficult if the custodial parent decides that he or she is going to move out of state. In some cases, a move out of state could be beneficial for the children (if the non-custodial parent consistently fails to follow through or is a threat to the ex-spouse), but in most cases moving out of state presents a whole new set of challenges for a divorced couple. In Illinois, if the custodial parent wants to leave Illinois, he or she must first go through a specific court procedure to determine if the move is indeed in the best interest of the child. No custodial parent is allowed to leave Illinois permanently without going through this procedure. In order to make this possible, according to DivorceSource.com, the first step a custodial parent must take if he or she wants to leave Illinois is to “file a petition with the court requesting permission to remove the children from the state.” From there, the court will require “psychological examinations of the parties and the children (and possibly others)… and it is difficult to obtain a prompt hearing.” This means that the custodial parent will need to prepare for the move well in advance—it’s not a decision that can be made lightly and requires months of preparation. According to DivorceSource, “removal will only be approved if it is in the best interest of the children.” There are several factors that the court will consider, according to DivorceSource, which include but are not limited to:

  • that quality of life will improve for all parties involved
  • why the custodial parent wants to move
  • why the non-custodial parent doesn’t want the other to move
  • how drastically the move will effect the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights
  • whether a realistic visitation schedule can be reached

If the non-custodial parent has spent significant time with the children and has proven to be an active part of the children’s lives, obtaining approval for the move may be more difficult. If you or someone you know has custody questions such as this, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois family law attorney today.

Image courtesy of renjith Krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted on in Divorce

Divorce is never easy. If you and your soon-to-be ex have children, divorce is even more complicated. Not only are you dealing with your and your spouse’s emotions, there’s the well being of the kids to take into consideration. If the divorce is amicable—which, let’s face it, it rarely is—deciding to share custody of your children is the obvious answer. Yet even if the divorce is less than friendly, research shows that deciding on joint custody is the best option for children. According to a report published in the American Psychological Association (APA), “children from divorced families who either live with both parents at different times or spend certain amounts of time with each parent are better adjusted in most cases than children who live and interact with just one parent.” This, of course, takes into consideration visitation rights as well as custody, but it should be noted that the more time a child spends with both parents, the better off he or she will be.  “Children in joint custody arrangements had less behavior and emotional problems, had higher self-esteem, better family relations and school performance than children in sole custody arrangements,” according to the APA. The perception that a joint custody arrangement could be damaging to children because it has the potential to expose children to ongoing parental conflict is just not true, according to the report. According to Parents magazine, there’s some important framework to consider if you’re embarking on a joint custody arrangement. This includes setting up a routine for your child or children, that “accommodates both parents’ schedules and serves the best interest of the child.” This includes holiday arrangements. Another tip from Parents magazine is to “leave young children out of negotiations, and present your decision matter-of-factly.” In order to be fair to both parents, try to make weekday and weekend time for both parents, so that one parent doesn’t end up being the “fun” one, while the other is responsible for more of the day-to-day. Determining child custody is only one complicated matter of family law and divorce. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois family law attorney today.   Image courtesy of Mindy McGregor / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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