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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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Posted on in Pet Custody

St. Charles divorce pet custody attorneyWhen determining parenting arrangements for children during divorce, there are rules that help determine a child’s future based on his or her well-being. Divorcing couples will also need to determine how to divide their property and assets. However, what happens when the property shared between a couple is a living thing? For many years, Illinois law treated pets as property, similar to a television or furniture, but the law was recently changed, and additional considerations now apply to pets during a divorce. 

What Has Changed?

In 2018, an amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) regarding the treatment of pets during a divorce was put into effect. Deciding on the “custody” of pets is now handled in a manner that is closer to that of children than it once was. While pets are still considered property, the new law states that when making decisions about ownership of pets—referred to as companion animals in the law—a judge should consider the animal’s well-being. This law, however, does not apply to service animals. A service animal is defined as an animal that is specially trained to benefit a person with a disability, such as a guide dog for a blind person or a seizure response dog that specializes in aiding a person with a seizure disorder. These animals are likely to stay with the person whom they are trained to serve.

When parental responsibilities, or child custody, are determined by the court, the health and safety of the child are put first. While a similar consideration now applies to family pets, the animal’s well-being is just part of the overall equation rather than the top priority. If one party takes better care of the animal, or the other is in an unstable living environment, the pet can be placed with the spouse who will better provide for the animal’s well-being. The party who purchased the pet or regularly took care of the pet may also be taken into consideration.

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Kane County spousal maintenance attorneyIf you are facing the possibility of a divorce, you and your spouse will need to resolve a number of issues. For many couples, property and money-related concerns are among the most challenging considerations. You have likely worked hard to earn what you have, so the possibility of “losing” your hard-earned assets during your divorce may not sit well with you. You may also be concerned about the possibility of paying maintenance—also known as spousal support or alimony—which can lead to disagreements as you are headed for a divorce.

Depending on where you are in the divorce process, you may have questions about spousal support and whether it will be a factor in your Illinois divorce. Some of the most frequently asked maintenance questions include:

Will Maintenance Be Awarded Automatically?

Under the law in Illinois, maintenance will only be granted following a divorce if the requesting spouse can prove that such support is needed to facilitate an equitable divorce. Maintenance is not automatic or guaranteed, and requesting it does not mean that it will necessarily be granted. If, however, you and your spouse already have a valid prenuptial agreement that says spousal support is to be paid, you can generally assume that the court will enforce the agreement.

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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.

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Posted on in Legal Separation

Kane County legal separation attorneyNo matter how mutual the decision may be to end a marriage, choosing to divorce is never an easy undertaking. Even the smoothest divorces mean big changes for both parties, and depending on financial circumstances and whether or not children are involved, those changes can have a ripple effect that impacts everyone in the household for some time to come. Divorce is just as much emotionally taxing as it is financially, compounding the burden for the entire family.

Given the potentially overwhelming nature of ending a marriage, it is understandable why some couples want to avoid the divorce process altogether. In fact, this is often a driving force behind legal separations, although a separation is often only a temporary solution and may not be an effective one for every couple. If you and your spouse want to delay the divorce for more practical reasons rather than emotional reasons, however, you may find that legal separation serves as a productive, beneficial option for both of you. 

Possible Advantages to Legal Separation in Illinois

The following three motivators often encourage couples to pursue separation as a stepping stone or alternative to divorce:

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