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Evening and Weekend Hours by Appointment
West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
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Kane County family law attorneysOne of the main reasons a couple procrastinates filing for divorce is because they are worried about the effect it will have on their children. The thought of sharing time with their kids can be troubling to any parent. Depending on the circumstances, one parent may be allocated the majority of the parental responsibilities. The other parent is typically awarded parenting time (visitation). A parenting plan outlines the details, such as a schedule of when the children are with each parent. This is a legal document that is enforceable once the divorce is finalized.

Due to the Illinois stay-at-home order issued in response to COVID-19, regular schedules may need to be adjusted since kids are at home if parents’ work schedules are different. However, in situations such as these or if distance keeps you apart, virtual parenting time may be an option. 

Virtual Visitation

In some divorce cases, one parent may relocate out of state for a new job. Teleconferencing apps or video calls can help alleviate the stress of not having in-person visits by facilitating contact between parents and kids when they are apart. With today’s technology, parents in these situations can still see and communicate with their children, keeping them connected and involved in their lives. Through electronic devices, they can even play a game, read a book, or make a recipe or a craft together. There are also many online video games that two or more people can play together even if they are in different states. 

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Kane County family law attorneysAs the number of cases of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) cases continues to rise in the United States, Americans are taking precautions by social distancing and staying at home. The first reported case of the highly contagious virus was in China, but it has since spread to countries around the world, including the United States, Italy, and England. The outbreak has led to the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring it a global pandemic. Those infected can experience mild to severe symptoms, with some resulting in hospitalization and even death. Although the older population is at a higher risk of life-threatening complications, children can also contract the COVID-19. In Illinois, schools, restaurants, and other businesses are temporarily closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. With many people working from home or laid off and kids out of school, this can be a challenging time for co-parenting after an Illinois divorce.   

Co-Parenting During a Crisis

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a “stay at home” order for residents that began on March 21 and runs through April 7. This means only essential businesses are open during this time period. Healthcare, government, and some food retail workers are included in this group. Other non-essential employees who are able to work from home have been ordered to do so. 

With coronavirus on everyone’s minds, you may be wondering how to handle parenting time with your children. As a parent, the safety, health, and well-being of your child is your highest priority. That is why it is crucial that you work with your ex-spouse and be flexible if parenting time needs may change during these uncertain times. For example, if you are still going into work but your ex is laid off, he or she can take care of your child while you are at the office. 

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Kane County family law attorneysThe decision to divorce is difficult, especially when a couple has children together. One of the main reasons parents stay together even if they are unhappy is because they do not want to lose any time with their kids. During divorce proceedings, many child-related issues must be addressed. 

In Illinois, “visitation” is now referred to as “parenting time.” This schedule can be agreed upon by both parents, or if they cannot come to an agreement, a judge will decide for them, keeping the best interest of the children in mind. The schedule is a part of the parenting plan, which, once approved by the court, is a legally binding document. It is important to follow the schedule as it was created, but parents may modify it if they both agree to the changes. As you might expect, the holidays present a unique challenge when it comes to parenting time, so the best approach is to be prepared. 

Adjusting Schedules

Creating a special holiday parenting time schedule can make things easier because it outlines where the children will spend each holiday without the parents having to negotiate every year. In many cases, parents rotate major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Children are typically with their mom on Mother’s Day and their dad on Father’s Day. When the parents do not live close together, the schedule is adjusted for time to travel.

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Geneva family law attorneyParenting time (visitation) can be a sensitive topic in a divorce, since both parents typically want to spend the most time that they can with their child. However, the court determines what is in the best interest of the child when making decisions during the divorce proceedings. In some cases, one parent may have a history of drug or alcohol addiction or domestic abuse. This could impact his or her allocation of parental responsibilities, as well as parenting time. Illinois law gives the court permission to restrict parenting time as much as necessary in order to protect a minor child, including requiring all visits to be supervised. If supervised visitation is considered necessary, the court will order it and it will be part of the parenting plan. 

What Does Supervision Look Like?

Supervision is defined as “the presence of a third party during a parent’s exercise of parenting time.” Supervision may be ordered by the court if there is enough evidence that proves a parent engaged in conduct that endangered the child’s mental or physical health, or that impaired the child’s emotional development. These orders are meant to protect the child and may include any of the following requirements:

  • A modification or elimination of the parent’s decision-making responsibilities and/or parenting time
  • Supervision by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) 
  • Having an intermediary present during the exchange between parent and child, or taking place in a protected setting
  • Restricting a parent’s communication with or proximity to the other parent or the child
  • Ordering a parent to refrain from possessing or consuming alcohol or drugs during (or right before) parenting time with the child
  • Restricting the presence of certain persons when a parent is spending time with the child
  • Posting a bond to secure the return of the child following the parent’s visit 
  • Completing a treatment program for abuse or for any other behavior that is detrimental to the child

The “supervisor” can be a trained therapist, social worker, or even a relative or friend. Even if the parents agree on a supervisor, the court must approve the nominee. When considering who should be a supervisor, it is important to note that professionals typically cost money, and friends and family members do not.

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Algonquin Family Law AttorneysDivorce can be really difficult for everyone involved, but especially for a young child whose parents are splitting up. Parents often fight over the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly called “child custody”) or parenting time (formerly called “visitation”). Their child might feel torn between trying to be loyal to both parents. In Illinois (and every state), a person under 18 years old is considered a minor and in most cases, unable to make legal decisions. Illinois courts consider the age of the children and the children’s wishes as well as family circumstances in deciding child-related issues.     

Best Interest of the Child 

Some people think there is a certain age at which a child can choose which parent with whom he or she wants to live, but that is a misconception. In Illinois, 14 years old is generally age at which a child’s opinion starts to be considered more by the court regarding under whose roof he or she will live. However, this is also based on the level of maturity of the child in question. For example, a mature 11-year-old boy may prefer to live with one parent because he attends a private school in the town where that parent lives. A 15-year-old girl may state she wants to live in the house where the parent does not enforce many rules or where there are no step-siblings if a spouse remarries. Ultimately, the court’s decision is based on which living situation or environment is in the best interest of the child.

In general, Illinois courts recognize “legal custody” and “physical custody.” Legal custody gives a parent or guardian the right to make important decisions, such as where a child will attend school or go to church. The term physical custody refers to which parent with whom the child will live. Like in other states, sometimes one parent (sole custody) or both (joint custody) parents can have legal and/or physical custody in Illinois.
A judge will take into consideration many factors regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities (custody), including but not limited to:

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