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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.

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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.

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Kane County uncontested divorce attorneyDivorce does not have to be bitter and expensive. In many cases, a couple has the basic agreement worked out before the divorce is even filed. This is generally known as an uncontested divorce, and such a resolution may be possible if you and your spouse are able to work together amicably. It is a good idea, however, to ask a qualified divorce attorney to at least review your agreement before you submit it to the courts.

Advantages of Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce means that the two sides have no issues to argue over. They file jointly for a divorce and ask the court to approve the agreement they have already worked out. In some cases, the agreement may need to be amended slightly to address minor details, but the spouses have agreed in principle to make it work.

The main advantages of an uncontested divorce are that the two sides save themselves time, frustration, and money by agreeing to everything in advance. While both sides should have the help of a lawyer in drafting and reviewing any agreement, the attorney fees will often be much lower than in cases with multiple court hearings and piles of legal documents drafted.

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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:

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St. Charles IL child support attorneyThere are currently about 2.3 million Americans incarcerated in the United States, approximately half of whom are parents. Furthermore, one in five has a monthly child support obligation. In most situations, this obligation simply remains unpaid, because for many, the small income that may be available for working within the jail or prison will not cover the costs. If the individual is serving an extended sentence, the unpaid support can accumulate to become an insurmountable debt. Throughout all of this, however, the children still need financial support from both parents.

Support Options for the Recipient Parent

If you are the parent to whom support payments are made and the other parent is currently incarcerated, his or her sentence does not automatically mean you are not eligible for payment. First, a child support order does not automatically stop due to incarceration. The only person who may modify a child support order is a judge through a modification hearing, which may be requested by either parent. Also, it is possible for inmates to make a payment due to having other income and assets available.

The court could also order the other parent to make payments from sources other than a job, including:

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