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Kane County family lawyerWhile fathers have always played an important role in the upbringing and development of children, they have not always been treated as such by the courts. This was often due to the assignment of traditional gender roles. Further, it was originally thought that the mother was more critical than the father was in the child’s early years. Yet, as time passed, fathers began to gain important recognition in the lives of their children. The composition of families also started to change. Now, there are fathers who stay home with their children while the mothers work outside of the home. Does this necessarily affect the allocation of parental responsibilities or assignment of parenting time in divorce though?

How Child-Related Matters Are Determined

In Illinois, divorcing parents are encouraged to negotiate an agreement regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and the parenting time details of their case. Generally, this offers numerous benefits for families, including the freedom to create a parenting plan that is tailored to meet their family’s specific needs. For example, if the couple feels the child and family would benefit most from the father receiving a greater allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time because he works from home, they could create and agree upon a parenting plan that reflects this decision.

Not all divorcing couples are able to agree upon child-related matters, however. Further, not all families should attempt direct negotiations, such as in situations involving domestic violence. In these cases, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time are decided by the courts. To make this determination, the judge will look at a number of factors to determine the best interests of the child, including:

St. Charles family law attorneyWhen you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, there are a large number of decisions that need to be made about the various areas of your family’s lives that will be affected by your split. Perhaps most important for parents of young children is determining how to allocate parental responsibilities. A divorce can be a time of uncertainty for your children, but a strong parenting plan will help them succeed and ensure that both parents play an active role in their lives after the divorce.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

parenting plan is an agreement between parents detailing how their children will be cared for after the divorce. This plan is an official part of the divorce decree, and it can help make the transition into post-divorce life as seamless as possible for a child as he or she adjusts to living in two homes and dividing time between parents.

A parenting plan should cover parenting time (visitation) schedules, specify how decisions about the health and well-being of the child will be made, and address any special circumstances that suit your family’s unique needs. Here are some tips for creating a successful parenting plan:

St. Charles family law attorneyDuring a divorce, each spouse is likely to experience a range of emotions, including grief, anger, regret, and feelings of betrayal. Sadly, the typical divorce process often exacerbates these negative emotions by seemingly placing the divorcing parties on opposite sides. Tempers can flare, and each spouse may focus on what they will walk away with once the divorce process is complete rather than working toward the best possible outcome for both parties.

When you add children into the mix, a contentious situation can become even more difficult, especially for the children who still love both of their parents. In fact, the damage can be so extensive that it carries on into the children’s adult lives. However, this does not have to be your children’s reality. You and your spouse can choose differently in your divorce and take an approach that focuses on your children’s interests.

Creating a Child-Centered Divorce

It is not impossible to create a supportive and protective environment for your children during and after the divorce process. Some parents are able to resolve their differences through alternative dispute resolution and work together to reach an agreement that prioritizes the children’s needs. Even if such an approach does not work for you, and you need to resolve your divorce through litigation, there are still things you can do to keep your children’s needs front and center, including:

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 divorce attorneyWhen you have made the decision to get divorced, there are many things that you need to do to prepare for the process. Among these is finding a divorce attorney who is willing to advocate on your behalf and fight to protect your best interests if necessary. Once you find the right lawyer, you will want to meet and spend some time with him or her so your attorney can best represent you. The more information you provide, the better your attorney is able to handle your case.

As you go into the first meeting with your lawyer, there are a number of things that you should be sure to cover, including:

What Information Do I Need?

For your discussion with your lawyer, you want to bring documentation that illustrates your financial contributions to the marriage. Most commonly, this includes tax returns, proof of income, bank statements, stocks, bills, and insurance paperwork. You also want to include debt information, including outstanding loans. Take the time to collect documents such as tax returns, pay stubs, credit card bills, and insurance policies so that your lawyer can have a good starting point for building your case.

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