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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_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_Divorce-kids_640.jpgIf you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, your child is most likely your top priority, especially if you have been allocated the majority of the parenting time. You work hard to meet your child’s needs and to provide the best possible life for him or her. In an ideal situation, your child’s other parent would also make your child a priority, and while your opinions on specific aspects of parenting may differ, common goals can allow you to work together constructively.

Issues often arise, however, when parents have drastically different views on what is appropriate for their child. In some cases, this can even lead to the child being placed in dangerous environments. If you believe that your child is in any type of danger when he or she is with the other parent, you may need to take action quickly.

What the Law Says

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b2ap3_thumbnail_child-custody5_600x400.jpgFollowing your divorce, separation, or breakup from your child’s other parent, you may have been granted a majority of the parenting time with your child. Your child may live with you most of the time, using your address for enrolling in school and participating in activities provided by the local municipality. It is easy for a parent in such a situation to presume that because he or she has more of the parenting time, he or she is also responsible for making most of the important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. This presumption, however, would be inaccurate as the law in Illinois considers parenting time and decision-making authority to be distinct concepts that are not necessarily dependent on one another.

Allocating Parental Responsibilities

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that parental responsibilities—formerly known as child custody—are divided into two primary considerations. The first includes significant decision-making authority for the child’s life. Such authority is roughly comparable to the previous understanding of legal custody, which concerned each parent’s role in deciding on important issues in the child’s life, including education, medical care, religious training, and extracurricular activities. Based on the best interest of the child and each parent’s strengths, decision-making authority can be granted to one parent, divided between both parents by area of concern, or shared equally between the parents.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_child-custody1_640.jpgEvery year, approximately 1.5 million children are forced to endure the divorce of their parents. As difficult as the new reality can be for children, it can be just as stressful—if not more so—for the adults, with each parent struggling to find ways to remain an active part of their child’s life. When a parent approaches the process of divorce, he or she may wonder what his or her rights are regarding parenting time with his or her children.

Visitation Is Now Parenting Time

For many years, a non-custodial parent could expect reasonable rights to visitation with his or her child, presuming that the parent was not found to present a danger to the child. Beginning this year, new legislation in Illinois overhauled the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and its provisions regarding child custody and visitation. Child custody has been renamed the allocation of parental responsibilities and parental visitation is now known as parenting time. The intent of the updates was to make such proceedings less confrontational and more cooperative, keeping the focus on the child best interests of the child as much as possible.

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Posted on in Child Custody

b2ap3_thumbnail_child-support2_640.jpgAfter a divorce, it is not uncommon for people to want to relocate, to leave bad memories behind and hopefully make new ones. However, many do not realize that they cannot simply pick up and move, especially if they have children. In Illinois, there are laws that must be complied with before a court will allow you to move too far away from the site of your marital home.

Pre-2016

Before the sweeping changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that took effect in January 2016, a parent essentially could not move out of state without court permission, and permission was not always forthcoming. The prevailing standard by which a court would review such requests was (and still is) the best interests of the child, and the standard list of factors did (and do) apply, such as the child's relationships in their current situation, the parent’s motives for moving, and the feasibility of visitation.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_child-custody3_640.jpgIf you are planning on filing for divorce and have children in common with your spouse, there are certain legal requirements that you must meet as parents. One of the most complex and difficult to navigate is the creation of your parenting time schedule. This document, which must adhere to certain guidelines, will determine where your child lives and when. It sounds easy, but many parents find themselves overwhelmed, confused, and stressed while trying to balance the requirements with their needs, wishes, and best interests of their child. Start off in the right direction with the following information.

Parenting Time and Parenting Time Schedules

At its simplest definition, a parenting time schedule is a mutual agreement between both parties that outlines the duration and frequency of each parent’s physical time with their child. During that time, they are the caregiver who will meet their child’s physical, emotional, mental, and medical needs. They will make any and all non-significant decisions and be allowed to bond with their child without interference from the other parent. This also essentially means that the “visiting parent” will actively and fully meet their responsibility by showing up on time for pick-ups and drop-offs, including those that may be scheduled to occur at school or while at an extracurricular activity.

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