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Naperville guardian ad litem lawyerUnfortunately, divorces do not often involve much amicability, especially on issues related to children. Divorcing parents may not see eye to eye on what is best for a child of the marriage. This can result in major disagreements that do not have a clear solution.

During a divorce, a child’s best interests can be put on the back burner or forgotten altogether. In order to avoid this, a judge may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to the case to help understand the situation and determine what solutions would be in the child’s best interest.

What is a GAL?

A GAL is an attorney who has been trained and certified to handle child-related issues. A GAL can be appointed in any case that involves child support, child custody, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, parental relocations or the general welfare of a child. Though the GAL is a licensed attorney, he or she does not act as an attorney for either side. Rather, the GAL’s role is to examine the circumstances of the case and act as an advocate for the child’s best interests.

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DuPage County parenting time lawyerWhen it comes to divorce cases and issues involving children, the Illinois court system places the needs and well-being of the children above all else -- including the parents. Child custody can be a contentious issue in divorce cases, but the job of the judge assigned to your case is to ensure that the child is safe, well cared for and loved, no matter the custody situation. Illinois courts understand that children do their best when both parents are present in their lives. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifically states that “it is presumed that both parents are fit and the court shall not place any restrictions on parenting time.” A judge will, however, place restrictions on parenting time if he or she feels the child would be in danger by spending time with one or both parents.

Considering Parenting Time Restrictions

It is widely understood by most people that a child not only deserves to have both in his or her life, but that they also thrive when they form a relationship with both parents. In most divorce cases, there will be an equal or nearly-equal allocation of parenting time. Unless a parent petitions to have the other parent’s parenting time restricted or the court learns of a danger to the child, parenting time will not be restricted. Before any decisions are made, a hearing will be conducted to determine whether the child’s mental, emotional, physical or moral health would be in danger if he or she were to spend time with the parent.

Types of Parenting Time Restrictions

Once you have attended the hearing, the courts will determine whether a parenting time restriction is appropriate. The court will examine all aspects of each parent’s life, such as his or her living arrangements or work schedules. If the court finds any of these aspects to be questionable, then they may place restrictions on the type, duration or supervision of the parenting time. Restrictions on parenting time can include:

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DuPage County parenting time lawyerDivorce is never easy for anyone, but it can be particularly stressful when a couple has children and they intend to divorce. With children comes a slew of extra issues and arrangements you must agree upon before you can finalize your divorce.

Illinois courts require that you and your spouse have a parenting plan filed with the court before you can finalize your divorce to your spouse. A parenting plan is a document that outlines both significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time (which is now the term used for child custody). Coming to an agreement on child-related issues can be stressful and sometimes a judge must step in to settle disagreements.

Factors for Consideration

Before a judge steps in and begins allocating parenting time, the parents are encouraged to come up with a parenting time plan on their own. This both increases the likelihood that both parents will stick to the plan, but it also helps foster cooperation and communication between the parents. 

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