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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_prenuptial-agreement6_640.jpgIn this day and age, more and more couples are signing prenuptial agreements before they wed to safeguard their own interests if the marriage fails. The mere act of creating a document like a prenuptial agreement is not sufficient to ensure its validity, however; certain provisions in the document can actually render the entire agreement null and void. Doing some research can help ensure that yours remains valid.

A Change in Property Distribution Rules

While prenuptial agreements—also known as prenups—have become more popular in general, Illinois law has helped contribute to a specific uptick in their use. Before the substantial reforms to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) which took effect in January of last year, property purchased “in contemplation of marriage” was normally held to be marital property and, therefore, subject to the state’s equitable distribution laws. After modification, this was changed significantly, with the law holding that just because property was purchased or received in contemplation of marriage, it did not make that property marital. Thus, a private agreement is often necessary in order to equitably distribute such property.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_summer-parties-liability_600x400-1.pngThe weather is getting warmer, and schoolchildren can hardly stay in their seats. This can only mean one thing: summer break is nearly upon us. While your children are excited for the break from school, you may be worrying about how this break will affect your parenting time schedule. Experts offer some guidelines to ensure the smoothest transition into summer possible.

Have a Plan

If you and your spouse are in the process of getting a divorce, do not wait to spell out custody and parenting agreements for the summer. It is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. Communication can stop problems and disagreements from occurring even before they start. If you are already divorced and have a custody agreement in place, take some time to go over it and verify the dates and arrangements with your ex-spouse.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_paternity_600x400.jpgAcross the country, it is becoming increasingly popular for couples to move in together long before they intend to get married. For some, cohabitation is a stepping stone to marriage, while others a placing less emphasis on ever officially tying the knot. This may lead one to believe that there would a corresponding increase in the number of children born to unmarried parents, but the numbers, it seems, tell a different story. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the percentage of first-time fathers who are unmarried is at its lowest point in decades.

Fewer Unmarried Dads

The CDC based its report on data from the National Survey of Family Growth. Researchers used surveys of both women and men between the ages of 15 and 44. The surveys came from three different decades: 1980-1989, 1990-1999 and 2000-2009. According to the survey’s findings, the downward trend in unmarried fathers has been ongoing since the 1980s, when 42 percent of first-time fathers under the age of 44 were unmarried. In the 1990s, that number was at 40 percent.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_College-Student_640.jpgIt is hard to believe that the current school year is already halfway over. Just a few short weeks ago, students of all ages were enjoying their summer break and, now, the fall semester has come and gone, at least in many districts. For high school seniors, the next few months will be full of preparations for college—applying to schools, making a selection, and scheduling their first classes. At the same time, parents of college-bound students will be faced with deciding whether or not to help their children with the costs related to their education. In certain cases involving divorced parents, such decisions may be left up to the court.

A Matter Between the Parents

Illinois law gives family law courts the authority to order one or both parents to contribute to their child’s college expenses, presuming that the parents are divorced or were never married to one another. Such contributions are considered a form of child support, despite the fact that the child, in most cases, is no longer a minor. The authority to order this type of support is based in the recognition that paying for a child’s education is often considered a financial element of a divorce settlement. This means that it is an issue to be settled between the parents, and a college-bound child cannot file a request for such support on his or her own behalf.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_lady-crying_600x400.jpgDespite countless public education campaigns and social efforts, domestic violence and abuse continue to plague millions of families around the country, including many right here in Illinois. Public awareness of the problem offers little consolation to a victim who is currently being terrorized in his or her own home or place of employment. That is why, in addition to taking steps to eliminating domestic abuse, it is so important to understand what your options are if and when you are being abused by an intimate partner or family member.

Get to a Safe Place

If domestic violence is part of your daily reality, you need to take action to protect yourself and, if applicable, your children. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, your best option may be to temporarily leave your home and to stay with a trusted friend or family member. Resist the temptation to let your abuser know where you have gone, even if the abuser is your child’s other parent. Your safety and that of your child must be your top priority.

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