Calabrese Associates, P.C.

Call Us630-393-3111

4200 Cantera Drive, Suite 200 | Warrenville, IL 60555

Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in allocation of parental responsibilities

What Is a Social Distancing Contract for Divorced Parents?The COVID-19 pandemic has forced divorced parents in the U.S. to adjust their parenting plans. Social distancing guidelines have changed what is necessary to protect children from harm, which may include limiting their travel between homes and making sure that they are not exposed to the virus. Some parents have gone as far as to create “social distancing contracts” that stipulate what they should be doing to protect their children from the coronavirus. Creating such a contract may seem prudent given the state of the world, but divorce professionals warn that some parents are trying to use the contracts to control their co-parents.

Potential for Manipulation

Co-parenting can be difficult if your co-parent has a history of manipulative behavior, and the public health crisis gives them a new way to try to control you. Your co-parent may try to pressure you into signing a social distancing contract that they wrote, claiming that it is in your children’s best interest. Provisions you see in the contract may include prohibiting you from:

  • Allowing any guests into your home, including family members
  • Meeting new people outside of your home
  • Attending non-essential gatherings

Limiting these activities may be necessary to protect your children during a pandemic, but a contract lets your co-parent decide who you can see and what you can do with no room for your own judgment.

...

When Does Illinois Allow the Termination of Parental Rights?Illinois family courts rarely decide to terminate parental rights. An unfit parent may lose a significant portion of their allocation of parental responsibilities, but courts want to avoid terminating someone’s parental status and leaving a child with one legal parent. The child support obligation is the most pressing issue because losing financial support from one parent could hurt the child. There is also an emotional benefit to the child knowing they have two parents, even if one is less active in their lives. Despite the negatives, there are two situations in which a court will consider terminating a parent’s rights:

  • Cases involving adoption; and
  • Unfit parent cases brought by the state.

Adoption

As previously mentioned, a family court is highly unlikely to grant a request to terminate the parental rights of one of the biological parents, whether it is voluntary or involuntary. However, it may consider the request if there is another adult who is willing to adopt the child. This adult would most likely be someone who has married one of the biological parents and become a stepparent. The process is simplest when a biological parent voluntarily surrenders their rights as a parent. Contested cases are more difficult because the parent requesting the termination will need to prove that the other parent is unfit and has shown no interest in the child.

Juvenile Cases

The state can initiate a parental termination case on a recommendation from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. There are three reasons that the DCFS may claim that a parent is unfit:

...

Illinois Court Rejects Father's Relocation PetitionA co-parent who wishes to relocate with his or her children bears the burden of proving why the move is in the best interest of the children. There can be several reasons why children may benefit from relocating, such as:

  • Better education;
  • A more diverse community;
  • Proximity to family members;
  • A higher standard of living; and
  • Employment opportunities for the primary parent.

However, the court must also consider how the relocation would affect the other parent’s rights. Regularly visiting each parent is often of the greatest benefit to the children. A court may reject a relocation petition if it is unconvinced that the children will be in a clearly better living situation than they are currently.

Recent Example

In the case of In re Marriage of Fatkin, a divorced father asked to relocate his two children from Illinois to Virginia. The father, who had a greater share of the parenting time, had not found full-time employment where he was living and wished to move into his parent’s home in Virginia Beach, where he grew up and had a job waiting for him. He cited several ways that his children would benefit from the move:

...

Parenting Plans Should Be Specific, Yet FlexibleWhen it comes to a document as important as a parenting plan, you want to avoid vague language and unanswered questions. A weak parenting plan can create conflict between the co-parents, which may also harm the children. Your parenting plan can be as specific as you need to prevent your co-parent from interpreting it differently. However, the plan should also be flexible so that you can respond to unusual circumstances with practical solutions. A good parenting plan thoroughly addresses all of the known issues that are involved in co-parenting while allowing flexibility to adjust to unforeseen issues.

Detailed Document

Parenting time is rightfully the most discussed aspect of a parenting plan because it is the most fundamental part of co-parenting. However, there are numerous areas of co-parenting in which there is a potential for conflict if the plan does not specifically address them. Some of the most common questions that the plan should answer include:

...

Children Need Relationship with Both Divorced ParentsDetermining the allocation of parental responsibilities can feel like a competition between parents to see who can receive more parental powers after a divorce. Parents will present their own strengths and the other parent’s weaknesses, with the prize being a greater share of parenting time. However, a focus on winning parental control may ignore what is in the best interest of a child. A parent with a majority of the parental responsibilities should help the other parent maintain a strong relationship with their children.

Parental Roles

Illinois family courts presume that it is in a child’s best interest to have two strong parental figures unless one of those parents is demonstratively harmful to the child. Children benefit from an active relationship with both parents because:

...

Settling Parental Disputes Across State LinesDisputes involving the allocation of parental responsibilities become more complicated when one of the parents moves to a different state. Relocating with a child from Illinois to another state requires court permission, decided by what is in the best interest of the child. If the relocation is approved, there are new questions about:

Most states in the U.S., including Illinois, have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to set guidelines for co-parenting across state lines.

Jurisdiction

...

How Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Your Spouse May Affect Your DivorceIn the past couple of months, the media has increased its attention towards sexual harassment allegations brought against male celebrities. Careers – and presumably marriages – have been ruined. However, most sexual harassment cases involve people who are not famous. If you believe the claims made against your spouse, it may be enough reason for you to want a divorce. You may feel:

  • Shocked that your spouse is capable of such action; and
  • Hurt that your spouse is seeking the admiration of someone else.

Because Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, you cannot cite the sexual harassment as a reason for your divorce or expected to be compensated for it. However, your spouse’s involvement in a sexual harassment case can still affect your divorce.

Lawsuits and Debts

...

Shielding Your Children from Divorce-Related DramaThere are some details in your marriage and divorce that your children do not need to know. Children already have a hard time adjusting to their broken family after a divorce. Telling them about their other parent’s faults that led to the divorce will hurt them more. Your most important job as a parent after your divorce to protect your children. That means shielding them from the infighting that often accompanies a divorce.

Too Much Information

Dragging your children into your divorce-related drama is unfair to them. Despite what you may think of your former spouse, your children likely look up to him or her as a parent. Children see their parents as infallible role models, even though no parent is perfect. By exposing your children to your grievances from the divorce, you are:

...

Posted on in Paternity

Parental Rights Without MarriageYou do not need to plan on marriage in order for family law to be useful. Cohabiting couples share their lives in many of the same ways as those who marry. This includes having children, which will tie the two people together even if they separate. A co-parent who never married is responsible for child support payments if the couple lives apart. However, there are benefits to being married parents that unmarried parents do not automatically receive. Unmarried couples must proactively use family law to gain equal rights as parents.

Establishing Parentage

When a married woman has a child, her husband is assumed to be the father. A biological father who is not married to the mother must identify himself as the father in order to have paternal rights. The father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form immediately after the child’s birth. In some situations, only one person is the biological parent. The other partner can apply for adoption to become a legal parent. Establishing parentage grants several rights regarding the child, including:

...

Coping With Your Children's Absence After DivorceSeparation anxiety applies to parents and children after a divorce. As a parent, you have developed a bond with your children and are not used to extended time apart. With a post-divorce parenting plan, you will likely not see your children for days at a time. The change can be jarring. While your children will always be with one of their parents, you are suddenly alone when your children are staying with their other parent. This can be depressing if your life has centered around taking care of your children. However, you can also think of your free time as a chance to find a purpose and structure that is not reliant on being a parent. There are several actions you can take to help you towards this:

  1. Rediscovering Personal Passions: When you became a parent, you may have put aside some of your favorite hobbies and activities. Taking care of your child came before your personal interests. You now have the free time to continue those interests. Participating in fun activities gives you something enjoyable to do while keeping your mind off your children's absence.
  2. Reconnecting with Friends: Parenthood also changes your social interactions. Your leisure time is often spent doing activities with your family or other parents. With your children away and being cared for, you are free to meet with friends for more adult social outings. The important aspect is being with other people at a time when you are feeling alone.
  3. Adjusting Your Work Hours: If your job gives you flexibility in your hours, you may be able to change your work schedule to fit with your parenting schedule. On days when you know you will not have the children, agree to work longer hours. In exchange, you may be able to work shorter hours on the days when you do have the children.
  4. Being Productive: Some people feel satisfaction when accomplishing something in their free time. Your time without your children is a good chance to work on personal projects, such as fixing up your home or continuing your education. You can also volunteer your time towards charitable efforts. These activities can give you a sense of purpose in your life.

Dividing Your Parenting Time

The days you spend apart from your children make the days you are together more important. Your parenting schedule should give both parents days with your children that do not involve work or school commitments. If your children are always gone on your days off work, you are missing your chance to bond with them. A DuPage County family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, will help you create a fair parenting agreement. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

...

11 Factors Courts Consider When Ruling on Child RelocationIllinois law prohibits a divorced parent from relocating with a child without notifying the other parent and receiving court approval. There are no exceptions for cases in which the other parent has little parenting time with the child or is deemed unfit. Unless the other parent has lost his or her parental status, a relocation order must be obtained if a parent wishes to move a child:

  • More than 25 miles if living in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will County;
  • More than 50 miles if living in any other county in the state; or
  • More than 25 miles if the new location is in another state.

Child relocation disrupts the allocation of parental responsibilities for the other parent. Regular parenting time may be impractical if the child lives too far away. However, the relocating parent and the child may benefit from the move. Illinois law lists 11 factors that a court should consider when deciding on a child relocation request:

  1. The Reason for the Move: The relocation should have some direct benefit for the parent or child. For instance, a parent may relocate because of a new career opportunity that will allow him or her to better support the child.
  2. The Reason for the Objection: If the parent who is not relocating wishes to block the move, he or she can explain how the move would disrupt his or her parental rights.
  3. Parental Fitness: The court will examine whether either parent has a history of not fulfilling his or her parental responsibilities.
  4. Educational Opportunities: The court may favor a move that puts a child in a better school district.
  5. Extended Family: It is often beneficial for a child to live near other relatives. The court will consider whether the move results in the child being closer or farther away from relatives.
  6. Impact of Relocation: A move may improve a child’s standard of living but may also be emotionally traumatic.
  7. New Parenting Agreement: The move would likely require changing the allocation of parental responsibilities. The court wants to see whether the parents can still create a reasonable agreement.
  8. Child’s Wishes: The court will only consider what the child wants if the child is mature enough to give a reasoned explanation.
  9. Appropriate Arrangement: The moving parent must have the necessary resources in order to support the child in the new location. A younger child may struggle with a more disruptive parenting arrangement that results from the move.
  10. Continued Relationship: The court wants to minimize any effect that the move would have on the relationship between the child and the objecting parent.
  11. Other Factors: Either parent can present other reasons that moving or not moving would be in the best interest of the child.

Relocation Orders

...

Do Not Underestimate the Impact of Divorce on Your ChildrenDivorced spouses may feel relieved to have ended their contentious marriage. The hostility between them made their lives miserable. If the former spouses are parents, they may believe that the divorce will benefit the children, as well. After all, children feel stressed and unhappy when living with parent who are often fighting. However, children are unlikely to view the divorce in that way. The positives that come from not witnessing their parents' hostile relationship are outweighed by feelings of loss and betrayal. Parents must understand how their divorce will affect their children.

Through a Child’s Eyes

For children, there is no fresh start or optimism after their parents separate. The divorce has abolished the two-parent home that they knew and replaced it with an unfamiliar living arrangement. Normally, parents put their children's needs first. A divorce tells the children that their parents' needs are more important than keeping the family together. Though they may not say it, children can blame their parents for not saving their marriage. If not their parents, they may blame themselves. Adults understand that divorce is a natural and often necessary outcome when spouses have irreconcilable differences. For children, divorce is unnatural because it destroys their family.

...

Change of Circumstances Allows Immediate Modification to Parenting TimeWhen former spouses determine parenting time during a divorce, they are creating a schedule that works best at that moment. The needs of children and parents change as they get older. So, it is natural that a parenting time schedule will need to change at some point. A court must approve any modifications to a written parenting time agreement for them to be legal. The difficulty of the process may depend on: 

  • How significant the changes are;
  • How much time has passed since the agreement was created; and
  • Whether both parents agree to the changes.

New Laws

If your parenting time agreement was approved before 2016, you may hear unfamiliar terms when you return to court to modify it. For instance, your parenting time schedule may have been called a visitation schedule. Illinois enacted new divorce laws in 2016, and the new terms reflect a change in philosophy for creating parenting agreements. Parents are allocated responsibilities instead of being granted custody, and parenting time is one of the primary responsibilities. The language in your visitation agreement may be out-of-date, but the agreement can still conform to the law. As long as the court is satisfied that the agreement is in the child’s best interest, you may be able to preserve the parts that you do not want to change.

...

How Social Media Can Hurt Your Divorce CaseMany users of social media have gotten into the habit of oversharing personal information. They have an unfounded belief that only a select group of friends will see what they post online. A savvy user knows not to post embarrassing or incriminating information about themselves to Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other popular social media applications. People going through a divorce must be even more cautious about how they use social media. A divorce attorney will investigate the opposing spouse’s social media accounts for evidence to use against him or her. Seemingly benign posts can damage someone's reputation in the context of a divorce. Divorce courts are given discretion in settling cases, and damaging social media posts may affect the:

There are several instances in which social media can be used against you during a divorce.

Attacking Your Spouse

...

Unfit Parent Claim Can Restrict VisitsIllinois law presumes that both parties in a divorce are fit parents, allowing them an equal right to the allocation of parental responsibilities. The parenting time and decision making may not be evenly split between the parents, but the divorce settlement will give reasonable responsibilities to each side. However, a court can limit or deny a parent’s responsibilities if it determines the parent is a threat to the child. Unfit parents may be required to use supervised visits in order to see their children.

Determining Unfitness

A parent can claim that the other parent is unfit during or after the divorce. Because of the presumption of fitness, a parent who believes his or her former spouse is a danger to their children must provide evidence to support the claim. A court needs documentation or reliable testimony that a parent may harm a child’s physical or mental health, such as:

...

Summer Break Planning for Divorced FamiliesSummer break is just around the corner for children in school. While this is normally a happy family time, it can be a shock for children whose parents have recently divorced:

  • Spending more time at home may remind them that their family has broken up;
  • Family summer traditions may be changed or eliminated; and
  • Summer parenting time schedules can greatly vary from the regular schedule.

Parents entering the first summer after a divorce may need to change the normal summer routine to prevent their children from getting the summertime blues.

Dealing with Absence 

...

Paternity When the Husband Is Not the Biological FatherWhen a child is conceived or born while a woman is married, Illinois law presumes that the husband is the legal father of the child. In some cases, the husband is not the biological father, possibly because of adultery or a relationship prior to the marriage. If you are the presumed father of a child that is not yours, you may want to free yourself of any financial obligation to the child. Getting divorced will not change presumed paternity, but there are legal processes to establish the biological father as the parent.

Denial of Paternity

If both you and your wife acknowledge that the child is not yours, you can sign a Denial of Paternity form within two years of the child’s birth. The form, which is filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, states that:

...
Back to Top