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Illinois Courts Cannot Discriminate Against Parents for Legal Marijuana UseA child’s safety with a parent is one of the factors that a family court will consider when allocating parental responsibilities during a divorce or separation. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will also consider this when determining whether to let someone adopt a child or become their legal guardian. Illegal drug use in the home is a red flag that a parent may be irresponsible and creating a dangerous environment for a child. However, some of the assumptions on drug use will change starting in 2020, when Illinois officially legalizes the recreational use of marijuana.

No Discrimination Against Legal Users

The "Illinois Cannabis and Tax Act" includes a section that is titled “Discrimination prohibited.” The section states that the lawful use of marijuana under this act cannot be the “sole or primary basis or supporting basis” for limiting someone’s rights as a parent or right to adopt or become a guardian of a child. This means a court cannot reduce your parenting time or decision making responsibilities based on your co-parent complaining that you use recreational marijuana, as long as you use it in a legal and responsible manner. Likewise, the Illinois DCFS cannot cite your legal marijuana use as a reason for denying your adoption request.

Irresponsible Use

As with other legal drugs, marijuana use will still impact your parental fitness if you are irresponsible with it. A court may decide that your marijuana use is a danger to your children if:

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How a Criminal Case Could Affect Your Parental ResponsibilitiesAn ongoing criminal case or past criminal conviction can be an important factor when determining how parental responsibilities should be allocated between parents in a divorce. A criminal charge may cause a court to doubt whether you can be a responsible parent and provide a safe environment for your children. However, the details of your criminal case will determine how much weight the family court will give it in your parenting case. Here are three relevant questions about your criminal case in relation to your parental responsibilities:

  1. What Is the Nature of the Criminal Charge?: Violent criminal charges cause the greatest concern about your children’s safety. Domestic violence or abuse charges, in particular, suggest that you may be violent towards your children if left alone with them. Crimes based on poor decisions, such as driving under the influence or drug possession, also reflect badly on your ability to be a responsible parent. A court may strictly limit your parenting time until you can demonstrate that you are not a threat to your children, which may require counseling and parenting classes.
  2. Is the Case Ongoing?: An active criminal case could be good news or bad news for your parenting case. If the case ends without you being convicted, your criminal charge may have a minimal effect on your parental responsibilities. However, the family court has the discretion to hold the fact that you were charged against you if you got off on a technicality or demonstrated poor judgment by putting yourself in the situation that led to your arrest. An ongoing criminal case also casts doubt on your future availability as a parent if a jail sentence is a possibility or you may lose your driving privileges as a result of your conviction.
  3. How Long Ago Was the Conviction?: If you have a criminal conviction on your record, your spouse may present this information to the court as a reason to limit your parental responsibilities. However, you may be able to downplay a previous conviction if it occurred a long time ago and you have demonstrated good behavior since then. A one-time mistake may not hurt you much if you can explain what you learned from the incident and why you will not repeat that mistake.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

A divorce court will presume that you have an equal right to parental responsibilities unless there is evidence that it would be against your children’s best interests. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group will work with you to ensure that you receive an appropriate amount of time with your children. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Using Provisions to Strengthen Your Parenting PlanYour parenting agreement is the document that determines your rights and responsibilities as a co-parent, such as when the children will be with each parent and who has the authority to make parenting decisions. However, there are many other aspects of parenting that co-parents need to agree on. Adding provisions to your parenting agreement can clarify how you will raise your children and how you will make decisions with your co-parent.

What Are Provisions?

Provisions refer to the terms of a parenting plan that address decision-making responsibilities and parenting time schedules. It is best to wait until you have completed the basic structure of your parenting plan before you start adding additional provisions. Provisions in a parenting agreement are helpful because they can create:

  • Guidelines for how you will raise your children, which creates more consistency between the two homes
  • A system for when and how you will communicate with your co-parent
  • A process for making temporary adjustments to the parenting agreement when circumstances require it

Examples of Provisions

The provisions in your parenting plan can be as specific as you want, as long as they do not violate state parenting laws. Common examples of provisions include:

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How Apps Can Help You with Co-ParentingWith the popularity of smartphone applications, it is no surprise that there are several apps related to divorce. Among these, co-parenting apps seem to be the most common. There are apps that help you create a parenting schedule, communicate with your co-parent and even make child support payments. Many apps will require you to pay a subscription fee to use their most advanced tools, and you should thoroughly research an app before you decide to rely on it for your co-parenting needs. There are several ways that a co-parenting app can be useful to a modern, two-household family:

  1. Organization: Most co-parenting apps have a shared calendar feature. You could also use a basic calendar application that will not require any fees. A calendar app records your parenting schedule and can give automated reminders about when you are supposed to pick up and drop off your children. More advanced apps allow you to track and share child-related expenses, which is a helpful record when calculating child support payments.
  2. Communication with Your Co-Parent: For some people, talking to their co-parent through an app is less stressful than a phone call. Some apps are designed to help co-parents communicate with each other in an organized setting. A message through an app is less intrusive than a text message and easier to notice than an email. You may not be expecting an email from your co-parent but will know to check the app for messages. Some apps scan your messages for emotionally charged language and warn you before you send the message.
  3. Communication with Children: Your children need to know when they are scheduled to be with each parent, as well as have a safe forum to communicate with their parents. You may need to tell your child that you are running a little late, or your child may need to tell you about a change in their school or social schedule. You can communicate with your children through normal texting and phone calls, but using an app can help you both stay organized. An app also helps you separate your messages to them about your parenting schedule from messages that are purely social.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Apps can be useful tools during and after a divorce but are not a replacement for an experienced divorce lawyer. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you create your parenting plan and advise you when changes are necessary. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Can Divorce Make You a Better Parent?It is hard to see much bright side to your divorce when it comes to your children. They are justifiably upset about the breakup of your marriage and how that will change their lives. It is difficult to adjust to a shared parenting agreement that requires them to travel between two homes. On an emotional level, they have experienced the dissolution of your marriage first hand and may question the permanence of any relationship, including their relationship with you. If there is a positive for the children, it is that they no longer live in a home environment rife with conflict and tension. There is also a chance that you may become a better parent to them as a result of your divorce.

Attention

Your marriage may have distracted you from your parenting in ways that you did not realize. It is difficult to concentrate on your children when you are worried about your relationship with your spouse and what that may mean for your future. Being a single parent is more work, but you could be a more attentive parent as a result because:

  • Your spouse is no longer competing with your children for your attention;
  • You are responsible for all of the parental responsibilities when the children are with you; and
  • Parenting time is more cherished when it is limited.

Your responsibilities as a single adult may demand your attention at times. You will learn how to manage your time so that you are available to your children when it is their time to be with you.

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