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West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
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Serving Kane, McHenry, DuPage and Cook Counties

kane county divorce lawyerIn recent years, pets and companion animals have taken on an increasingly important role in our lives. Recent studies show that over 75 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be members of the family, and that viewing pets this way is even beneficial for the owner’s physical and mental health. However, family law statutes throughout the U.S. have been slower to adopt this view, with many states still treating pets as equivalent to other forms of property in divorce cases. Illinois is one of the rare early exceptions, having enacted laws specifically addressing companion animals in divorce cases in 2018.

Which Spouse Keeps the Pets?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act now specifically references companion animals in several places, recognizing that when a couple owns a pet together, ownership of and responsibility for the pet is an important part of the divorce resolution. For example, the law allows spouses to create an agreement regarding possession and care of their pets. In many cases, these agreements include visitation schedules, or even arrangements similar to parenting time in which the pets will live with each spouse on certain days. A companion animal ownership agreement is also noted as a necessary part of a joint simplified dissolution of marriage for couples who have pets.

In cases of contested pet ownership, the law allows a spouse to petition the court for temporary possession of their pet during the divorce process, or more permanent terms for pet ownership in the final divorce resolution. When making a decision, the court will consider whether the pet is a marital asset, typically meaning that it was adopted during the marriage. However, the court will not simply treat a pet as any other type of property, but will instead consider the animal’s well-being and whether continued joint ownership would be appropriate. The court will also exclude service animals from these decisions, ensuring that an animal trained to assist one the spouses will be able to stay with that spouse.

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Kane County parenting time attorneyThe summer months are a time when children often have less structure to their schedules because of the extended break from school. This can come with many benefits, including time to relax, participate in other activities, spend time with family, and take trips. However, it can also be a source of stress for parents, especially those who are recently divorced, as they try to adapt to the changes that summer brings. If you are going through a divorce, planning for summer break in your parenting agreement can help you prepare for many of the challenges you might encounter. Here are some things you may want to address in your parenting plan.

Shifting the Balance of Parenting Time

During the school year, it may be in a child’s best interest to spend the majority of the time during the week with one parent, so as to minimize interruptions to their daily routine. However, this may not be as important during the summer when children do not have as many schedule commitments. With this in mind, you might consider allocating more summer parenting time to the parent who has less time throughout the rest of the year. This arrangement often works especially well when parents live far apart, making regular travel between homes more difficult.

Setting Expectations for Travel

Many parents plan family vacations or trips during the summer, and it may be a good idea to address this directly in the parenting plan. For example, you could specify certain weeks when each parent can travel with the children, perhaps taking into consideration a fair allocation of summer holidays when parents have time off work. You should also include expectations for notifying each other about travel plans, as well as communication with your children while they are on a trip with the other parent.

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St. Charles IL family law attorneyAs a parent, negotiating for a parenting time schedule that allows you as much quality time with your children as possible is a crucial part of the divorce process. Perhaps equally important, however, is ensuring that when your children do stay with you after the divorce, they feel comfortable and welcome in your home. Transitioning from one household to two is often a difficult adjustment for children, and your efforts to make your house feel more like home can go a long way toward making the change less stressful.

Creating a Comforting Home For Your Children

While it is sometimes possible for one parent to stay in the family home after a divorce, in many cases, both parents will need to find a new home. Here are some things to keep in mind that can help you make an unfamiliar location homier for your kids:

  • Give your children a dedicated space. Giving your child their own room, especially one that they can personalize to their liking, can help them feel like your new house is truly their home. If a separate room for each child is not possible given your living arrangement and financial resources, work with your kids to set aside smaller spaces where they can take comfort.

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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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