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b2ap3_thumbnail_parental-alienation2_640.jpgDivorce proceedings can be a difficult and painful experience for all involved, including the children. This is doubly true if they are old enough to understand what is going on. It is only natural that they may develop opinions on some of the issues pending in your divorce. However, in some instances, their opinions will actually carry weight with the judge. Nowhere is this more common than with issues involving parenting time.

How Much Weight to Give?

When parenting time arrangements come down to the decision of a judge, he or she must take into account a number of factors. A child’s preference may be one of them, though it will get no more weight than any of the other possible elements. A partial list of all the considerations a judge must weigh includes:

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Posted on in Child Custody

b2ap3_thumbnail_Parent-Holds-The-Hand-Of-Child_640.jpgIn the past, if a couple with children split up, the children almost always stayed with their mother. Fathers seldom saw their children and were often not very active or involved. Today, families exist in countless different arrangements and forms. Children splitting their time between two houses is now a new norm. How can a parent who shares their child with an ex make the most of the time he or she has? There is no magic way to be the perfect part-time parent but there are some things you can do to help you be the best mom or dad possible.

Think Quality Over Quantity

Many couples stay in an unhappy marriage because they are concerned about their children. It is extremely difficult for mothers and fathers who have been in their children’s’ lives since the beginning to imagine going a weekend without them. Some parents worry that their child will become distant or feel unloved. Co-parenting does not have to be a negative situation for anyone. One step you can take is to change your thinking. While it is true that you will see your child for a lesser amount of time, this does not mean your relationship with him or her needs to suffer. Use the time you have with your child to do something special and meaningful. Take this one-on-one time with your child to get to know them better. You may find that having less time with your child makes it easier to prioritize what really matters.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Joint-custody600-1.pngJesse Williams, star of the television show Grey’s Anatomy, has filed for joint custody of his two children after announcing his divorce from his wife Aryn Drake-Lee. Williams reports that he does not get to spend as much time with the children as he would like. The actor indicated in court documents that his estranged spouse “restricts my time with the children and decides when, and for how long I may have them.” He further claimed that he has requested additional time with his children, including overnights, but their mother “has insisted that my time with the children be limited during the week to approximately two and half hours per day.” Williams has requested a court order for joint physical custody of his children. 

Television stars are not the only ones who can find themselves in a complicated custodial situation. Many individuals find themselves spending less time with their children than they would like. Unfortunately, some ex-spouses withhold parenting time from the other parent as a way to stay in control of the situation. Studies regarding child development, however, have shown repeatedly that children are happier, healthier, and make better life choices when they have both parents involved in their lives. 

A Casual Custodial Agreement is Not Always the Best Choice

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b2ap3_thumbnail_stepparent-adoption_600x400.pngYears ago, child custody arrangements following a divorce almost always defaulted to the mother being given full-time custody while the father was relegated to having a couple of weekend visitations each month. Under this arrangement, fathers may have been able to create some bonding moments, but overall the quality of parent-child bond was generally lacking.

Over the last several decades, however, research has increasingly shown that this “traditional” custody scenario is one of the least healthy arrangements for children. Instead, experts recommend that children spend at least 35 percent of the time with each parent instead of simply living with one and visiting the other on occasion.  

Benefits of Both Parents Having Significant Parenting Time

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b2ap3_thumbnail_guardian-minor-children-600x400.jpgSometimes, parents prove unwilling or unable to take care of their children. In these scenarios, there are several options for the children to receive care, but one that is becoming increasingly common is for a grandparent or grandparents to step in. A decade ago, there were around 100,000 grandparents raising their grandchildren in Illinois, and the number has only risen since then. If you are in a position where you may decide to raise your grandchildren, there is a process to follow to ensure everything is legally sound.

Obtaining Physical Custody and Parental Responsibilities

There are several different options for grandparents to obtain decision-making power over their grandchildren, as well as physical custody of the children. The most commonly used is to bring an action for parental responsibility under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). There are two scenarios under this law in which a grandparent could conceivably obtain physical custody. The first is if the child is not in the physical custody of their parent—if the parents are both deceased, for example, or if one or both parents voluntarily abandoned the child. The second is if one parent is deceased and the other is missing or incarcerated. If either of these applies to your family situation, the IMDMA is likely the best law under which to bring your petition.

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