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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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Wheaton family law attorneysWhen parents get a divorce or were never married, they often wish to share custody of their children. Laws regarding child custody and visitation, officially called the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, are outlined in Section 750 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes. A parent who wishes to share custody of a child must do so within the bounds of the court-ordered parental allocation judgment/agreement. Withholding parenting time from the other parent can potentially have severe consequences.

Custody Agreements Are Legally-Binding

Generally, divorced or unmarried parents have a allocation of Parental Allocation and Parenting Time Agreement that is submitted to a judge. After this agreement is approved, it becomes a legally-binding document. Parents who fail to follow the rules in the document can be considered to be in violation of the court order. Typically, one parent is designated as the parent with the majority of parenting time. Withholding parenting time from the other parent or not returning the child on schedule can result in legal consequences including contempt charges. When a parent refuses to comply with a Parental Allocation Judgment, there can be even more serious consequences. A parent who consistently does comply with the order or moves a child without notifying the other parent can have their parenting time restricted and even lose it.  

How to Address Problems with Parenting Time or Parental Responsibility

Never take family law matters into your own hands. Failure to comply with Parental Allocation Judgments can endanger your own parental rights. If major problems with a parenting plan or schedule arise, they must be addressed through the Illinois family court system.  The parent who feels the parenting time schedule has been compromised should always petition the court, preferably with the help of a family law attorney, to have the schedule enforced as it stands or petition the court to make changes to the parenting plan to better address their needs.

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Illinois family law attorney, child custody and visitationOn January 1, 2016, significant changes will go into effect in Illinois under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Specifically, changes will be made to child custody and visitation. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these changes as 2016 begins.

Allocation of Parental Responsibility

Beginning January 1, 2016, the entire section on custody will be named the Allocation of Parental Responsibility—the terms “custody” and “visitation” will no longer be used in Illinois. Moreover, custody orders, visitation agreements, and parenting agreements will be removed from the chapter and will be replaced with allocation judgments, parenting time, and parenting plans. An allocation judgment is a judgment that allocates or directs parental responsibilities.

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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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