Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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4200 Cantera Drive, Suite 200 | Warrenville, IL 60555

IL family laywerIllinois courts and judges are very concerned with the well-being of children, and Illinois family law reflects that fact. Recent changes have been made to the law to encourage both parents to have an equal role in their relationship with their child whenever possible. As a result, it is rare for a court to decide to terminate a parent’s rights to see, care for, and have a relationship with their child.

However, termination of parental rights can happen when courts find it is in the best interest of the child. Termination happens when a parent is deemed unfit by the state and/or when another adult, such as a grandparent or stepparent, seeks to adopt a child.

When Is a Parent Considered Unfit?

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is the governmental division responsible for overseeing the wellbeing of children who have problems at home serious enough to require state intervention. There are three primary reasons that DCFS may consider a parent unfit for parental rights:

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IL family lawyerTwo and a half years ago, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law that changed the way marijuana is treated in Illinois. The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (ICRTA) decriminalized the use and possession of recreational marijuana and opened the door to private businesses selling it to citizens. Although marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, the ICRTA halted criminal punishment of marijuana users and even allowed Governor Pritzker to pardon thousands of previous marijuana convictions.

The ICRTA also included provisions that prevent marijuana use, by itself, to be considered as a factor when judges make decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. No employee of an Illinois court - including child representatives like guardians ad litem - may discriminate against a parent based on the fact that they use marijuana. However, this does not mean that parents in Illinois can use marijuana however they please.

Do Not Allow Marijuana Use to Interfere with Parenting

Like parents who drink alcohol, parents who use marijuana must refrain from using it in a way that interferes with their parenting abilities. Best practices for marijuana use include:

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IL divorce lawyerMarried parents can claim their child as a dependent exemption on their joint tax return. After divorce, however, only one parent can claim a child as a dependent for tax purposes. Because the ability to claim dependent exemptions can make a major difference in a parent’s finances, being able to claim your child as an exemption is often as good as money itself. Understandably, the tax implications of divorce can be a topic of contention.

Include Child Tax Exemptions in Your Divorce Decree

In the midst of divorce negotiations, who gets to claim a child as a dependent exemption is often forgotten until after the divorce is finalized. This could be a costly mistake. Illinois no longer uses the terms “custodial parent” or “child custody,” but the IRS still does. The IRS sees the parent who spends the most time with the child as the custodial parent, and unless parents specify another arrangement, the IRS default is that the custodial parent gets to claim the child as a dependent on their taxes.

However, if parents are proactive about arranging exemption claims, they can do it however they wish. They may alternate years, or, if they have multiple children, agree to split the exemptions so each parent may claim one or more children. Include the discussion about child-dependent exemptions in the broader conversation about asset division, child support, and spousal maintenance. Parents who work cooperatively can usually come to a holistic financial resolution that suits them both better than if a judge were to make the decisions for them.

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IL family lawyerThe end of the summer holidays can be bittersweet. Children are torn between sadness that school is starting again and excitement to see their friends; parents are sorry to be spending less time with their children, but relieved to get back on a regimented schedule. For parents who are recently divorced or separated, navigating the back-to-school experience can be hectic.

Deciding who will buy school supplies, who will provide after-school childcare, and who will monitor homework and attend parent-teacher conferences are all things to be considered. Each family’s situation is different, but there are some steps you can take that will make the transition easier for everyone.

  • Do your best to cooperate with your ex – Former spouses often have hard feelings towards each other, but getting your child ready for school is a crucial time to put those differences aside and work as a team. Prioritize the things that really matter, and try to let the rest go. Using shared calendars and an email address that is exclusively for child-related communication can help you and your ex avoid hostile face-to-face conversations.
  • Plan ahead with your child’s school – Talk to your child’s teacher about the recent change in your family situation. The more openly you communicate with the teacher, the easier it is for the teacher to accommodate you and your child. Make sure the school has a list of adults who are allowed to check out or pick up your child, including stepparents or grandparents. Consider attending parent-teacher conferences with your ex so you can share your concerns and make appropriate plans for your child’s academic future.
  • Be flexible about costs – Decide ahead of time who will pay for certain expenses, but be prepared for unexpected costs to pop up. After a backpack gets left in your ex’s home for the umpteenth time, you may decide to keep a spare in your home even if you have to pay for it yourself. If your child needs supplies, avoid holding them over the child’s head until your ex pays their fair share. Prioritize your child’s education, and work the details out behind the scenes.

Speak with a Naperville, IL Family Lawyer

A seasonal scheduling change does not have to mean you are facing conflict when it comes to working with your ex. At Calabrese Associates, we have experience helping clients arrange parenting plans that work for everyone. Whether you are involved in the divorce process right now or are hoping to modify an existing parenting plan, we can help. Call us today at 630-393-3111 to set up your confidential consultation with a skilled DuPage County family law attorney.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerFamilies commonly move to new homes for a variety of reasons, including when a parent is pursuing employment opportunities or because a person wants to live closer to their extended family members. Moving is a decision that married couples or unmarried partners make together. However, it can become more complicated for divorced parents or unmarried parents who do not live together. One parent’s choice to move could affect the other parent’s ability to spend time with the couple’s children, especially if they plan to move a significant distance away from where they currently live. In these situations, a parent may need to request a parental relocation officially. The case may need to be heard in family court, where a judge will decide whether to allow the move and determine how to modify the couple’s parenting plan.

Factors Considered in Parental Relocation Cases

When a parent plans to move, and they have the majority of the parenting time with their children or an equal amount of parenting time as the other parent, they must notify the other parent at least 60 days before the date they will be moving. For parents who live in DuPage County or other nearby counties, moving at least 25 miles away from their current home will be considered parental relocation. If the other parent objects to the move, the parent who is planning to move must file a petition in family court asking for permission to relocate.

A family court judge will consider the following factors to determine whether allowing a relocation and modifying a couple’s parenting plan will be in the child’s best interests:

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