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DuPage County divorce lawyerMany parents who are thinking about ending their marriage have the same concern. They wonder, “How often will I get to see my kids if we divorce?” If you are thinking about divorce and you live in Illinois, it is important to understand how the state handles visitation. It is also important to know the vocabulary Illinois courts now use to describe parenting duties. In Illinois, the term “visitation” is no longer used to describe the time that a child spends with each parent. Visitation has been replaced by the term “parenting time.” Read on to learn about how parenting time decisions are handled in Illinois divorce cases.

How Much Parenting Time Does Each Parent Get?

Parents have the right to design their own parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval. As long as the parenting plan serves the child’s best interests, the plan will be approved and formalized into a binding court order. The parenting plan contains important information about how parents will make major decisions such as where the child goes to school, as well as the parenting time schedule. Some parents decide to split parenting time nearly equally. Others create a plan in which the child lives with one parent on the weekend and the other parent on the weekdays.

What if We Cannot Agree on a Parenting Time Schedule?

When you are used to tucking your child into bed every night, the idea of going days or even weeks without seeing him or her can be distressing. Consequently, parents often disagree about how much parenting time each parent should be allotted in the parenting plan. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, the first step is often to attend family law mediation and work with a mediator to reach a compromise. Your respective lawyers may also be able to help you negotiate an out-of-court decision on parenting time disputes. If you still cannot reach an agreement, the case may go to litigation.

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Naperville child custody attorneyAll over the U.S., individual states are changing their laws around marijuana use, making it legal at the state level even as it remains illegal under federal law. In Illinois, Governor Pritzker signed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law in 2019, changing much about how marijuana is regulated and treated under the law.

Because of this new law, marijuana can no longer be used to discriminate against parents when it comes to custody considerations–with certain limitations. However, stereotypes of marijuana users are still very much a part of society, and bias exists from spouses and judges alike. Here are a few things to consider when wondering whether your or your ex’s marijuana use could impact child custody decisions.

Keep Marijuana Away From Children

Whether it is taken recreationally or for medical purposes, marijuana is a drug. This means that parents should exercise great caution to keep marijuana out of the hands of children. Obviously, this includes marijuana flowers and paraphernalia, but edibles and other candies can be packaged and presented in a way that is especially attractive to children. Child custody battles can be tense even without accusations of allowing access to marijuana, so make it easier on yourself by keeping marijuana away from the kids. You should also plan for your visitation times and avoid marijuana use around your children.

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DuPage County family law attorneyOne of the biggest concerns that many parents have during the divorce process is the effect it will have on their children. The irony of this is that the parents themselves have significant control over how their children are affected. Many people think the mere fact that parents are splitting up will be enough to permanently harm a child for life, but studies have shown that the level of conflict parents display to their children is a much more important factor when it comes to determining how much of an effect a divorce has on the children. Children whose parents are constantly in conflict suffer from more negative effects than the children of parents who get along.

Co-Parenting For Your Children’s Best Interests

With this in mind, it is important that you and your spouse keep the conflict to a minimum, especially when around the children. Co-parenting after your divorce can be complicated, especially if your divorce was less than amicable. Here are a few things you can do to help keep the conflict at bay during and after your divorce:

  • Follow your parenting plan. One of the easiest things you can do to reduce the amount of conflict between you and your spouse after your divorce is simply to follow the terms of your parenting plan. Before your divorce is finalized, you and your spouse will be required to submit a parenting plan to the court to be approved by the judge. That plan should contain information about most issues that may arise while co-parenting and ways to cope with those issues.

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Naperville IL family law attorneyIn today’s world, most divorces are settled in some sort of amicable fashion. As the understanding of family, child, and adolescent psychology has evolved in the past couple of decades, family courts have increasingly advocated for couples to settle their issues in agreement with one another, which can lessen the burden on everyone. Unfortunately, however, not everyone is able to do this. Some couples end up in contentious situations that breed resentment that follows them into their post-divorce life.

Child-related issues such as parenting time and parental responsibilities are very emotionally driven topics that are often the cause of disputes after the divorce is final. Sometimes, a parent can take a dispute to the extreme and begin to interfere with the court-ordered parenting plan, which causes even more stress for the family.

Creating a Parenting Plan With Court Intervention

When you get a divorce as a parent in Illinois, one of the things you are required to do prior to finalizing the split is submit a parenting plan to the court. A typical parenting plan contains detailed information about how you and your spouse will parent your child from this point forward. This information will include things such as how parental responsibilities will be allocated to each of you and how parenting time will be distributed. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your parenting agreement, the court will intervene and make the final determination, though this can leave some parents unhappy with the court’s decision.

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Naperville IL parenting time attorneyAfter the divorce process has been initiated, one of the most difficult things for parents to adjust to is the change in their parenting schedules. Instead of seeing and spending time with your child every day, you might only be spending a few days with your child each week. For many parents, this can feel as if they never get to spend enough time with their children. One option that can help a divorced parent spend more time with their children is including a clause known as the right of first refusal in the parenting agreement. An Illinois family law attorney can help you draft a parenting plan that includes this provision.

What is the Right of First Refusal in a Parenting Plan?

The right of first refusal means that when one parent is unable to take care of the child during their scheduled parenting time, they are to first check with the other parent to see if they would like to care for the child before making alternative child care arrangements. The idea behind this is to allow both parents to spend as much time with their children as possible rather than resorting to another option, and in some cases, it may even help parents save on child care costs.

Awarding the Right of First Refusal

As with the parenting time schedule, it is preferred if the parents can agree to a plan for the right of first refusal between themselves. However, if the parents are unable to do so, the judge will determine whether or not awarding the right of first refusal to one or both parents would be in the child’s best interest. To make this determination, the judge would use the same criteria that are used when making decisions on parenting time.

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