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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

As a part of the divorce process, divorcing parents are asked to create a parenting plan and submit it to the court. The parenting plan is a detailed description of numerous different child-related issues. Reaching a decision about each element of the parenting plan is an essential part of establishing each parent’s legal rights and responsibilities. A well-written parenting plan can also help prevent disputes about these rights and obligations in the future. However, parents sometimes struggle to see eye to eye about the issues contained in the parenting plan.

Elements Required in an Illinois Parenting Agreement

There are several different issues that all Illinois parenting plans must address. You will need to decide how you intend to make significant decisions about your child, including decisions about his or her education, religious upbringing, health needs, and extracurricular activities. Another major component of the parenting plan is a parenting time schedule which dictates where the child will live on given days. Parents must also describe how the child will be transported between the parents’ homes. The parenting plan will include provisions about each parent’s right to access important child-related information such as the child’s medical records and school reports. Provisions addressing potential future modifications of the parenting plan, any future parental relocations, the right of first refusal, and several other matters are also typically addressed.

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DuPage County divorce attorney guardian ad litem

Child-related disputes during divorce can be particularly difficult to handle. If you and your spouse are struggling to reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, you may have questions about how these issues will be resolved. In any child-related legal proceeding, reaching a resolution that is in the child’s best interests is the top priority. In order to make fully informed decisions, Illinois courts sometimes utilize the expertise of a guardian ad litem.

Helping Children Have a Voice

A guardian ad litem (GAL) is a specially trained attorney who represents the child’s best interests. He or she acts as an “expert witness” during legal proceedings such as guardianship and child custody cases. A GAL will investigate the circumstances of the case and then make a recommendation to the court about what he or she thinks is best for the child. This investigation often involves a “home study” during which the GAL will visit the child’s home and evaluate his or her living situation. The GAL typically interviews the child or children involved in the dispute as well as the parents. Teachers, childcare workers, doctors, psychologists, social workers, and other adults involved in the child’s life may also be interviewed.

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DuPage County family law attorneysIf you and your spouse are considering divorce and you have children together, you may have concerns about how you will share parental responsibilities and parenting time. Co-parenting with an ex-spouse can be extremely difficult—especially if the end of the marriage was wrought with conflict. If you and your child’s other parent cannot communicate without the discussion devolving into arguments, parallel parenting may be an effective strategy for you to consider.

The Basics of Parallel Parenting

Just as every marriage is different, every divorce is different. Some divorced parents can easily communicate with each other about child-related concerns. They may even spend major holidays together or take joint vacations. Other divorced parents feel a great deal of animosity toward each other and would rather not communicate at all. If you are getting divorced and you worry about you and your spouse’s ability to co-parent, parallel parenting may be the right choice for you.

In a parallel parenting scenario, each parent makes their own parenting decisions with little input from the other parent. Any communication between the parents is typically done via email or text messages and the parents only communicate if it is absolutely necessary. A multitude of research has shown that children are deeply damaged by being exposed to parental arguments and fighting. The goal of parallel parenting is to allow both parents to be involved in their child’s life while minimizing the potential for conflict as much as possible.

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DuPage County family law attorneysIn Illinois, divorcing parents who wish to share parental responsibilities and parenting time of their children must draft a document called a Parental Allocation Agreement or parenting plan. This agreement describes the official allocation of parental responsibilities, formerly called custody, and parenting time, formerly called visitation, between the two parents.

Typically, parenting agreements also contain information about how the child will be raised, how major decisions about the child’s life will be made, and provisions regarding any future proposed changes to the shared parenting arrangement. All Illinois parenting agreements must include a provision describing how “the right of first refusal” will apply to the parents. Read on to learn about this important provision as well as how the right of first refusal can affect the way you share parenting time of your child after an Illinois divorce.

Maximizing Each Parent’s Parenting Time

Except for in cases involving child abuse or other special circumstances, Illinois courts encourage parents to spend as much time with their children as possible. Many studies show that children are healthier and happier when both of their parents are actively involved in their life. In order to help parents maximize their parenting time in situations involving divorced or unmarried parents, Illinois parenting agreements include a provision called the right of first refusal. This provision states that when a parent cannot fulfill his or her parenting time obligation, they must contact the other parent to see if the other parent wishes to have the child stay with them.

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DuPage County family law attorneysFamily courts in Illinois—like those in the rest of the country—often have the unenviable task of making very difficult decisions regarding how a child will be cared for following the divorce or breakup of his or her parents. In more tragic situations, including those in which the child’s parents are deceased or incarcerated, the courts may need to decide on a guardian or other caretaker for the affected child. Throughout all of these types of cases, Illinois law provides that the child’s best interest should always be the top priority. To make sure the best interests of the child are fully protected, the court may appoint a specially-trained attorney to serve as a guardian ad litem for the duration of the proceedings.

The Role of a GAL

A guardian ad litem, or GAL, is an attorney who does not work on behalf of any party in a child-related legal matter. Instead, he or she serves more as an extension of the court and as an independent expert witness. The GAL is tasked with developing a proposed outcome for the case that, in his or her trained opinion, will provide the best possible scenario for the child. To do so, the GAL is granted the power to investigate the relevant circumstances of all involved parties by conducting interviews, visiting homes, and reviewing appropriate documents, including previous court records.

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From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree