call us630-584-4800

Free Consultations

Kane County parenting time lawyerThe COVID-19 health crisis has affected the lives of virtually all Americans, closing down businesses, schools, and even courthouses across the country. Health experts have long indicated that the shutdowns were and are necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but the response has forced many Illinois parents to amend their existing parenting plan and left significant questions about handling shared parental responsibilities.

For example, if you are subject to a shared parenting time arrangement, you may be wondering how you are supposed to handle a situation in which the other parent is not taking social distancing, self-isolation, or mask-wearing directives as seriously as you are. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast answers to be found during this unprecedented situation, but there are a few things that you should try to do if possible.

Follow Your Existing Order If You Can

For some parents, the thought of their child contracting or spreading the coronavirus is scary enough that they want everyone to simply stay at home until the threat is no longer as serious. Concern over your family’s health is reasonable, but when your children are accustomed to dividing time between two parents’ homes, expecting them to stay in one home throughout the pandemic can put significant strain on their relationship with the other parent and cause major co-parenting conflict. With this in mind, it is a good idea to follow your existing parenting plan to the degree that is safely possible, and try to work with the other parent to promote the health and safety of everyone involved.

St. Charles IL family law attorneyFollowing a divorce, if you had previously assumed the surname of your spouse, you have the option of returning to your birth or maiden name. This request can be included in a divorce petition, and it will typically be approved by the judge.

To change your name later on, or to change the last names of your children, a separate court order must be filed. Changing the names of your children you had with your ex-spouse is more complicated than changing your own, and having an attorney with experience in name change cases can help immensely.

Name Changes for Minor Children

According to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5), a request to change a minor’s name will be approved only if a judge finds that changing the child’s name is necessary to serve the child’s best interests. This means that the name change will not automatically be approved simply because you want your child to share your last name. The Illinois Parentage Act (750 ILCS 46) also contains a provision that allows a name change for a minor if both of the child’s parents agree to the change, but this statute is usually reserved for cases involving unmarried parents or if the child’s parentage is disputed.

Kane County parental responsibilities attorneyGetting a divorce is not easy, especially when children are involved, and it is important to understand the decisions you and your spouse will need to make regarding your children. Prior to 2016, Illinois still used the terms physical custody, legal custody, and visitation when dealing with divorces that involved children. After substantial reforms to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act in 2016, there are now two major components that you must address if you have children and are seeking a divorce: parental responsibilities and parenting time. These changes were made in recognition of the way parenting actually happens in families. Rather than having one parent as the sole child-rearer, the law encourages parents to share parenting time and responsibilities. 

Legal Definitions of Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5), there are specific definitions for both parenting time and parental responsibilities:

Parenting time refers to the time each parent spends with the child, during which they are responsible for performing caretaking functions, as well as making non-significant decisions pertaining to the child. Caretaking functions may include:

Kane County parenting time attorneyAccording to recent estimates, there are almost 4 million divorced parents in the U.S. today. For such parents, the winter holiday season can be particularly tough to manage, as extended family members often travel great distances to celebrate and to see the children. While far fewer families are likely to travel this year compared to previous years, the holidays are still likely to be challenging for parents who share parental responsibilities.

The first thing you should keep in mind is that, no matter what you do, you will not be able to please everyone. Someone along the way is likely to feel at least a little slighted or disappointed about how your arrangements play out. However, with a little planning and a commitment to being flexible, you can enjoy a happy holiday as a divorced parent.

Take Proactive Steps

Planning ahead is key in making holiday parenting time arrangements. If you and your former partner have a parenting plan in place that specifies where your child will spend which holidays, it is important to be aware of what your plan says for this year. If you are not sure, review your plan and be certain. Your parenting agreement might give you the freedom to set up holiday plans each year by discussing them with your child’s other parent. Once you have established who will have parenting time and when, you can begin planning your holiday visits and other activities. This includes video visits and other arrangements made necessary by the COVID-19 health crisis.

St. Charles child custody attorneyThere is a long-standing debate among psychologists and in divorce courts as to a specific definition of the term “parental alienation syndrome”. While child psychologists have been discussing parental alienation syndrome for over three decades, the debate surrounding it continues in part because it is not always easy to correctly identify.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation syndrome, or PAS, is alleged to occur when one parent creates a contrived illusion to the child or children regarding the child’s other parent. This often leads to the child experiencing manipulated, negative emotions toward and detachment from the other parent.

In cases where there are allegations of PAS, it is often because one parent believes that the other parent is deliberately working to undermine their relationship with the child. This may occur in situations where one parent is disrespectful to the other parent in front of the children or when one parent perceives that the child has developed angry or dismissive feelings toward them due to the actions or words of the other parent. 

Back to Top