Tag Archives: parenting time

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 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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DuPage County family law attorneysThe winter holiday season is a time that is meant to be shared with friends and loved ones. For some families, however, spending time together can be a challenge due to divorce, child-related legal matters, and other concerns. No matter what you may be going through, you and your children deserve to enjoy the Christmas season, and there are some steps you can take to help make that happen.

Be More Flexible

Shared parenting time is often a major point of contention for divorced parents around the holidays. You want to see your children on Christmas, but so does their other parent. It is important to keep in mind that fighting with your ex-spouse will do nothing to promote a happier holiday for you or your children. Try to compromise on a parenting time schedule that affords you both the opportunity to share in the joy of the season with your children, even if you do not get as much time as you would like.

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhen you have limited time with your child due to a divorce or breakup, the time you do get to spend with your child is extremely valuable. It is during this time that you must foster the relationship you share with your child and strengthen the parent-child bond between you. Anything that threatens your parenting time, then, must be taken very seriously, especially if your parenting time could be affected for an extended period of time. This is typically the case when your child's other parent intends to move with the child to a new city or state. Such a move is usually considered a relocation and Illinois law provides you, as a parent, with certain rights to object.

Legal Definition of Relocation

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines a relocation as a move by a parent with half or more of the parenting time outside of a certain radius. A move is considered a relocation if it includes the child and is a move of:

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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