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Wheaton divorce attorney child custody

People get divorced for every kind of reason under the sun, from basic incompatibility to simply wanting different things in life. Many times, these reasons for a divorce stem from a basic inability of the couple to effectively communicate and cooperate with one another. Just as this spelled trouble during the marriage, this can also spell trouble during the divorce. Divorcing with children can be especially complicated as child-related issues tend to be very emotionally fueled, but they must be settled before the divorce can be finalized. Illinois courts urge parents to come to an agreement about parenting time and decision-making responsibilities on their own or with the help of a mediator. However, if that is unsuccessful or would be detrimental to the well-being of the family, the case must be brought before a judge.

Understanding Child Custody Evaluations

If you and your spouse appear before a judge without a consensus as to what your parenting plan agreement is, the judge will most likely order a custody evaluation to take place before any further decisions are made. If the court orders a custody evaluation to take place, the evaluator is then hired, which is typically a mental health professional, such as a psychologist. The evaluator’s job is to study and record the interactions between the child and each of his or her parents, siblings, and any other relevant family or household members.

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Naperville divorce attorneyIf you have not previously been divorced, then you understandably do not know what the divorce process actually entails. Everything that you know about the divorce process probably comes from what you have heard from your friends, family members, coworkers, and other people who have talked about their experience with divorce. While it can be helpful to have support from loved ones, you should speak to an Illinois divorce lawyer for the truth about any topics that may be of concern to you. Here are a few common myths that still exist about divore and the truths behind those myths:

You Must State a Reason For Your Divorce

Just a couple of years ago, the state of Illinois changed its divorce laws immensely. One of those changes was removing the option of choosing fault or naming a reason for the divorce. Now, the only legal reason stated for getting a divorce is irreconcilable differences which caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. 

Property is Always Divided 50/50

This is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about divorce. The most logical thing would be for each spouse to receive half of the couple’s assets and debts, but that is not how it always works out. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states that property is always divided in an equitable manner in Illinois. This means that a variety of factors are looked at when dividing property and one spouse may end up walking away with more assets or debts than the other.

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DuPage County divorce lawyerFor many divorcing couples, children are a part of the picture and must be properly handled before the divorce can be finalized. Getting a divorce when you have any children at all increases the complexity and difficulty of the legal process, but doing so when your children are in their teenage years can provide for rather unique and interesting issues. If your children are still minors, you and your spouse must have a parenting plan approved and in place before you can have a judge finalize your divorce agreement. Creating a parenting plan can be straightforward in some situations, but when you are creating a parenting plan for teenagers, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Flexibility is Important

When you have a child who is a teenager, they are just beginning to blossom into young adults. Their lives are no longer revolving around you and the family. They have other things going on in their lives, such as school, friends, extracurricular activities, sports, jobs and significant others. A strict parenting plan will only cause stress for everyone and can put a strain on the relationship between you and your teen. Having a flexible parenting plan is important for successfully co-parenting a teenager.

Be Prepared For Them to Spend a Lot of Time With Friends

As your child grows, they will naturally want to spend more time with their friends and will gravitate away from the family setting. This is normal and actually helps prepare them for a few years down the line when they will be surrounded by peers and no longer living with parents. You should try not to place too much pressure on your teen for wanting to spend time with his or her friends in the midst of your divorce.

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DuPage County parenting time lawyerWhen it comes to child custody, the court has one goal: to protect the child’s best interests. To do this, there are a variety of factors that are considered when allocating parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Some of these factors include things such as the level of cooperation between the spouses, the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community, and even the stability of each parent and their ability to facilitate a loving relationship with the other parent. Another factor that has come up in Illinois courts more recently is whether or not a parent’s legal marijuana usage can (or should) affect that parent’s child custody rights.

The Legality of Marijuana in Illinois

Prior to the beginning of 2020, marijuana use was only legal for registered medical marijuana patients. On January 1, 2020, recreational marijuana became legal in the state of Illinois. Under the new law, adults who are over the age of 21 are permitted to purchase and consume marijuana legally. Even though many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, the drug still remains illegal under federal law.

Marijuana Usage and Parenting Time

Within the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, the act that legalized and decriminalized marijuana in Illinois, there is a section entitled “Discrimination Prohibited.” This section specifically states that parents, legal guardians, or any other person who is responsible for the welfare of a child cannot be discriminated against because of their lawful use of marijuana or cannabis products. This means a court cannot limit your parenting time or decision-making responsibilities because of marijuana usage, as long as you use it in a lawful and responsible manner.

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Naperville child custody lawyerFor divorcing couples with children, a parenting plan must be created before you can tie up the loose ends of your divorce and move on with your life. Illinois courts urge parents to create a parenting plan together that contains all of the provisions and stipulations that they wish to abide by once their divorce is finalized. If you do not come up with a parenting plan, or if you are unable to agree upon one, the responsibility then rests on the courts. A judge, along with a team of professionals, will create a parenting plan for your family, but this often results in one or both of the parents being unhappy with the terms of the agreement.

There are certain commonalities that all parenting plans must share, but parents are given a generous amount of freedom in regards to what can be included in a parenting plan. Here are a few things that may not come to mind right away, but are worth consideration for your plan:

  • Religion: This can be a point of contention between parents, especially if the parents are not of the same religion. Since religion is such a personal matter, it is highly recommended that you and your former spouse make the decision about the child’s religious upbringing together. If the court is forced to intervene, they will most likely make a decision based on prior conduct in regards to the child’s religion.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_childsupport3.jpgFor many divorcing families, the topic that is always at the forefront of every decision is the children. For divorcing parents, a topic that often comes up is child support. In years prior, the calculations for child support were much more basic, but they did not always take into account the factors that more and more parents were dealing with, such as two incomes and shared parenting time. In today’s child support calculation process, more details are taken into consideration than ever before. This includes the amount of parenting time each parent has, the income of each parent, the cost of health insurance for the child, the cost of the child’s extracurricular activities and the cost of childcare. The calculation process can be difficult, but it is important to understand.

Determining the Basic Child Support Obligation

Before the amount that each parent should provide for support is determined, the basic child support obligation is calculated. This is the total finances that both parents should be providing their children each month. To find this, the gross monthly income is determined for each parent. Then, the corresponding value from the 2019 Gross to Net Income Conversion Table is taken, which is the parent’s net monthly income. These two incomes are then added together. The total of both parents’ incomes is used to find the amount that both parents should be using each month to provide for the child’s basic needs.

Determining Who is Responsible for Paying What

Once you know how much should be spent on the child’s basic needs each month, you have to figure out who will be paying what. First, you will determine how much each parent’s income is in relation to the household’s total monthly income. You can do this by taking each parent’s income and dividing that number by the sum of both parent’s income. The percentage of the household income that each parent is responsible for also depends on the number of children. Using the Income Shares Schedule, a single parent of three kids who makes $2,075 per month will be responsible for paying $839 per month.

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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 plan attorneyGetting a divorce when you have children is much different than getting a divorce when you do not have children. Couples who divorce and have children often face a more complicated and stressful situation than couples who do not have children. With the addition of children, there are many different things that must be addressed before you can finalize your divorce. In the state of Illinois, couples are required to have a parenting plan in place before their divorce can be completed. A parenting plan is a document that details the agreement between the couple and outlines many of the issues and procedures relating to the children, including how parenting time will be allocated and how decision-making responsibilities will be handled.

Before you go to court about your parenting plan, you must first attend mediation. Illinois courts believe that families benefit from the use of mediation when issues need to be settled, but they also understand that mediation does not work for everyone. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement during mediation, you will have to take your case to court where a judge will make determinations about your case.

Components of a Parenting Plan

In your parenting plan, there are certain elements that must be present before the court will approve the plan. At a minimum, the parenting plan should contain information about:

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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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DuPage County divorce attorneyOne of the things that holds back many couples from divorcing is the children. Many parents worry and wonder what kind of effects the divorce would have on their children, even if they know that a divorce would be best for their personal wellbeing. In reality, many parents do not know that staying in an unhappy marriage can actually be more detrimental to a child’s wellbeing than divorce. Here are a few ways as to how staying in an unhappy marriage could harm your children:

Chronic Stress and Tension

If you are feeling the stress at home, then your children probably are too. Constant fighting or bickering can mean chronic tension in the home and that is not good for anyone. Your children will feel it and will feel uneasy in their own home.

Low Self-Esteem

Children absorb everything around them. When their surroundings are full of fighting and rejection, children tend to internalize that, which turns into low self-esteem. Constantly being at odds with your spouse can cause your child to feel uncertain and rejected.

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Naperville child relocaiton lawyerIn many homes, a family may move away from relatives and friends to follow the course of one spouse's career. If, however, the marriage comes to an end, it is only natural that at least part of the family will wish to return home. Or, in another situation, a divorced parent may find another job that removes them from the location of their original family home. Circumstances change continuously, and there are laws designed to help determine the appropriate course of action for families who find themselves in relocation situations. Illinois relocation laws say:

Advanced Notice

When a parent chooses to relocate with a child, they must provide advance written notice to the other parent. This notice must include:

  • The intended moving date;
  • The intended new address;
  • Whether the move is permanent, and if not, it must consist of the length of stay; and
  • The notice must be given at least 60 days in advance, or as soon as the note becomes practical.

Is Notice Always Required?

Parental notice is not always required unless it includes a drastic change to the life of the child. Written notice becomes necessary if the moving parent is the one with whom the child resides most of the time, or if both parents share an equal amount of parenting time. Other considerations include:

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Naperville divorce coachIn divorce, sometimes the grief of the loss of a marriage is so overwhelming that clarity and rational thought are difficult to maintain. This period is frequently referred to as an “emotional roller coaster” because emotions run the gamut from sadness to anger and even moments of joy. Brains are unable to act rationally and irrationally simultaneously; therefore, when emotions run high, logic becomes potentially non-existent. Clients coping with a particularly stressful divorce often find relief after consulting with a divorce coach

What is a Divorce Coach?

A divorce coach is a mental health professional trained to assist you and your spouse find effective ways of communicating to nurture healthy discussions regarding children, finances, and other aspects of divorce. A divorce coach is not a therapist, but rather someone that asks questions that help overcome divorce roadblocks.

Although the term “divorce coach” is relatively new, divorcees around the country are singing the praises of the benefits that come with a divorce coach. These are consistently cited as the top three benefits of incorporating one into your divorce process:

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