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Reasons to Not Seek Sole Responsibility for Your Children During DivorceIn some divorces, a parent is allowed to have sole responsibility for their child, including complete control over parenting time and decision making. This most often occurs when one of the parents is physically abusive towards the child or shows a total lack of interest in being part of the child’s life. However, most parenting plans will allocate parental responsibilities between both parents. In Illinois, the presumption is that one parent will have a majority but not all of the parenting time. Still, some parents try to receive sole parental responsibility for personal reasons. You should consider whether seeking sole responsibility is a wise decision before you go down that path.

Problems with Sole Responsibility

Illinois prefers a shared parenting plan because it assumes that children of divorce are better off when both parents are active in raising them. The exception is when you can prove a reasonable belief that your children could be in danger if they are left alone with your co-parent. You cannot deny your spouse’s parental rights as a way to punish them for infidelity or because you think you are a better parent. Those factors may help you receive a majority of the parental responsibilities but do not mean that your spouse is an unfit parent. Receiving sole responsibility is usually not in your children’s best interests. Having a strong relationship with both parents is crucial to a child’s development, and they may resent you if you try to deny their relationship with their other parent.

Requesting sole parental responsibility is also impractical unless there is a compelling reason for it. Consider that:

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How COVID-19 Has Affected Phone Call Etiquette for Divorced ParentsThe public response to the COVID-19 pandemic has required people to change the ways in which they communicate with each other. In-person visits are being replaced with phone and video calls in order to limit travel and contact with other people. Video chats on your phone or through an application such as Zoom have become a popular way for family members to stay in contact with each other – including divorced parents contacting their children. Some parenting agreements will set a limit for how often one parent is allowed to call their children when they are staying with the other parent. With the extraordinary circumstances that we are currently living in, it may be time to add a provision regarding phone calls to your parenting agreement or modify your existing provision.

Call Etiquette

Co-parents may set limits on calls if they are concerned about the other parent interrupting their parenting time. For instance, the parenting agreement can say that a parent may initiate contact with the children once per day or every other day when the children are with the other parent. The children can contact the parent on their own but should be encouraged to focus on the parent they are with. Frequent or long calls with a child can be harmful to them because:

  • The calling parent may be trying to alienate the child from their other parent
  • The child is not able to adjust to living with the parent if they are constantly being reminded of their other home
  • The calls may make the child anxious but they are afraid to upset their parent by telling them

Changing Circumstances

It may be appropriate to adjust your normal call etiquette because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas daily calls may have seemed intrusive before, you should consider that:

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Posted on in Child Custody

How to Co-Parent During a CrisisDespite reasons to not get along, many co-parents manage to have an amicable relationship following their divorce or separation. You do not have to be friends with your co-parent but do need to communicate and cooperate with each other, which allows you to focus on making decisions that are best for your children. A crisis such as the one the world is currently experiencing can test your patience as a co-parent because of the way it disrupts your normal routine and creates uncertainty. It is important to continue to cooperate with your co-parent during any crisis for the sake of creating stability for your children. Here are a few suggestions for co-parenting during our current crisis:

  1. Put Health First: The most important thing for you to do right now is to protect the health and safety of everyone in your household. This may mean following public health guidelines and taking extra precautions at home. If you have not already, you should talk to your co-parent about what actions you believe are necessary to protect your children.
  2. Assume That Your Parenting Plan Is Unchanged: You worked hard to agree on a parenting schedule during your divorce. A public crisis does not necessarily mean that your schedule will not work. Try to stick to the same schedule, and adjust it when you know of conflicts. There is no need to throw away your previous work.
  3. Be Adaptable to Changes: A public crisis will disrupt a parenting schedule in some cases, whether it is due to travel restrictions or a change in your work hours. When you know of a schedule conflict, talk to your co-parent immediately about ways you can adjust your parenting schedule. Remember that your children’s wellbeing should be the top priority in any decision you make.
  4. Show Compassion: Both you and your co-parent are likely under immense stress, such as from losing your job or feeling stir-crazy while stuck at home. This may affect your mood when talking to each other. If your co-parent seems agitated or hostile, try to respond with calmness and compassion.
  5. Find Distractions: It is unhealthy to be fixated on a crisis by constantly watching the news and talking about it. More importantly, your children need an escape from stress. Find activities that you can do together while at home, such as watching a movie, playing a game, or sitting outside.

Contact a St. Charles, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

If you need to adjust your parenting plan, it may be helpful to get the changes in writing in case you later disagree on what those changes were. A Kane County divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can modify your parenting plan to meet your current needs. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Who Gets Jurisdiction When Divorced Parents Live in Different States?The term “homecourt advantage” extends beyond the sports world. There is an advantage to having your divorce in a court that is close to where you live. Having to travel to another state for your divorce would be more costly, especially if you need to use litigation to settle your case. Choosing a court for your divorce should not be an issue if you both live near each other. If more than one state can claim jurisdiction for your divorce, the state that hears your case may depend on who files first and the practicality for both sides. Illinois has rules concerning jurisdiction in a parenting case when the two parents live in different states.

Determining Jurisdiction

The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act says that the home state of the children should have jurisdiction over a parenting case but Illinois can claim jurisdiction if:

  • The children lived in Illinois in the past six months
  • The court of the other state declines jurisdiction
  • The Illinois court determines that it would be most appropriate for the case to be heard in this state

Once you complete a parenting case in Illinois, the state continues to have jurisdiction over future cases as long as at least one of the parents maintains a strong connection to the state. If neither of you lives in Illinois anymore, jurisdiction will transfer to the children’s home state.

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Creating a Parenting Plan for a Child with Special NeedsFiguring out a parenting plan during your divorce is complicated, but there are additional difficulties if one of your children has special needs. Raising a child with special needs may require dedicating additional resources to accommodate their physical and/or mental disabilities. A parenting plan needs to account for these in its allocation of parental responsibilities and child support. Children with special needs can be more vulnerable when dealing with the changes that come with their parents divorcing.

Parenting Time

There are several factors that you need to consider when creating a parenting time schedule for your special needs child:

  • If your child has physical disabilities, will both parents have a home that can accommodate them?
  • Are both you and your co-parent capable of caring for your special needs child on your own?
  • How difficult will it be to transport your special needs child between homes?
  • How might your special needs child react to changing homes?

You need to divide your parenting time in a way that is best for your child, which sometimes requires them to spend the majority of their time with one parent. Your marital home may have special equipment that helps with your child’s physical needs, and replicating that in a second home may be expensive. If your co-parent is more experienced with caring for your child’s special needs, you have to learn how to be an independent caregiver if you want a schedule that is close to equal parenting time. However, you still might not be able to dedicate as much time to your child if you have longer work hours than your co-parent.

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