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St. Charles family law attorneyOnce your divorce is wrapped up, you and your family will embark on new journeys and a brand new way of life. When you and your ex-spouse share children, arrangements for parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities must be made, resulting in new routines and a lifestyle that you and your children were not previously accustomed to before the divorce. While these new arrangements can take some getting used to, they often result in happier, healthier homes and habits for you and your children.

Depending on your family situation, however, you may wish to take other people into consideration, such as grandparents, mentors, and close family friends.  Who will have visitation rights, and what will those rights look like? How will you determine which non-parents will spend time with your children, and how will you negotiate those parameters?

Non-Parent Involvement

If the visitation rights of non-parents are not addressed in the parenting plan, they can be granted by the court using the following guidelines:

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois child custody lawyer, co-parenting, shared custody, child support guidelines, Life during and after divorce can be overwhelming in many respects, especially when children are involved. If you are contemplating a divorce and anticipate a child custody battle, your mind is probably teeming with questions. Here are the answers to ten commonly asked questions regarding child custody, child support orders, visitation rights, and other related issues.

1. What are my family’s custody options?

Under Illinois law, either one parent will be awarded sole custody or both parents will share joint custody. If the court grants joint custody, one parent will have residential custody (this is the custodial parent). Both options afford visitation rights to the non-custodial parent. The main difference is that under joint custody, the parents share decision-making authority.

child custody, Kane County divorce attorney, Kane County family law attorney, noncustodial parents, visitation rightsWhen a parent is not granted custody of his child, he is entitled to reasonable visitation rights, unless the court determines that visitation would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health. Traditionally, “visitation” means in-person time spent between a parent and child, but it might also include electronic communication such as phone calls, email, or Skype.

Since the noncustodial parent is entitled to reasonable visitation rights, the court may not restrict those rights unless visitation endangers the child. However, the court may modify an order granting or denying visitation rights if that serves the best interests of the child. The court considers numerous factors when determining a child’s best interests. Those factors include:

  • The wishes of the child;
  • The relationship that the child has with the noncustodial parent;
  • The mental and physical health of all involved parties;
  • The presence or threat of physical violence;
  • The occurrence of ongoing or repeated abuse by the parent, whether it is directed toward the child or another person; and
  • Whether the parent is a sex offender.

Note that the court will not consider the parent’s conduct if it does not affect his relationship with the child. In fact, unless there is ongoing abuse, the court presumes that the maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents is in the child’s best interest.

Circumstances in Which Visitation May Not be Granted

Kane County family law attorney, legally incompetent, petition for visitation, visitation rights, grandparents rights, primary caretakerFamily dynamics are complicated. It is not uncommon for a parent to seek visitation rights following a divorce. However, a parent might not be the only family member who wants these rights.

After a divorce, a grandparent, great-grandparent or sibling might want visitation rights as well. There might also be other situations when a family member would petition for visitation, such as when he or she has been unfairly denied by one of the child’s parents.

If one parent has unreasonably denied visitation to a grandparent, great-grandparent or sibling, then one of these individuals may petition for visitation rights. In order for the petition to succeed, one of the following circumstances must exist:

equal-time custody, equal-time custody arrangement, Kane County family law attorney, awarded sole custody, residential custody, visitation rights, child support obligations, Illinois custody law, equal parenting time, child's best interestsFathers’ rights advocates across the country are challenging the presumption that women make better parents. These men accuse courts of affording women preferential treatment in child custody battles and argue that "joint" custody is a joke. But family law experts counter that the so-called maternal presumption is no longer the ubiquitous standard-bearer that it was formerly.

Many states are moving toward custody outcomes that have children spending equal time with both parents. In Wisconsin, for example, state law requires courts to take this approach. Studies there show that the number of custody cases resulting in the mother as sole custodian is declining, while the number of equal-time custodians is increasing. Moreover, another study reveals that nationwide, more and more mothers are being required to pay child support.

However, equal parenting time might be on the horizon in Illinois. A bill before the General Assembly would amend the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act by adding a presumption that equal parenting time is in a child's best interests. However, if a court found that equal-time custody is not in the child's best interests, then it instead would allot a minimum of 35 percent residential time to the non-custodial parent (barring the presence of factors showing this too is not in the child's best interests). The non-custodial parent could waive this right.

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