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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, IL child custody lawyerAlthough your divorce is between you and your spouse, your child will experience the before and after effects as well. Divorce brings massive changes in a child’s life through child custody and/or relocation at any age. Between witnessing an unstable marriage to adjusting to a new life at “Mom’s” and “Dad’s” house, the influence the divorce has on the child can be tough to deal with.

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, custody and visitation are now known as parental responsibilities. If you and/or your spouse are granted parental responsibilities, you two are in charge of making decisions regarding education, health, religion, and extra-curricular activities on behalf of your child(ren).

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind that will help contribute to successful parenting time:

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Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer,Divorce is difficult and stressful for everyone - there is no doubt about that. Once you completed your divorce and have decided everything from how your marital property is divided to how your parenting time is divided, you probably felt like a weight was lifted off of your shoulders. All of that stress and worrying can come rushing back if you have to move and you want to take your child with you. In Illinois, parenting time can be changed if there is a significant change in circumstances from when the parenting plan was first created - parental relocation qualifies as one of those circumstances. Even if you are not moving out of the state, you cannot just pick up and move if you are taking your child with you. You must seek the permission of both the other parent and the court.

First Steps

Before you do anything, you are required to provide written notice about your intended relocation to the child’s other parent. The notice should be issued to the other parent at least 60 days before your intended relocation unless that is not possible. The notice should be filed with the clerk of the circuit court and should include your intended date of relocation, your new address if it is known and the length of time you will be there if the change is not permanent. If the other parent agrees to the relocation, signs the notice and files the notice with the clerk of the court, no further court action will be taken. If the parent fails to sign the notice, objects to the relocation or you both cannot agree on a modification to the existing parenting plan, this is when the courts get involved.

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By Maxine Weiss Kunz

divorceMany changes are coming to family law as of January 1, 2016. These changes include changes to custody (a term of art that is going out the window) as well as changes to financial aspects of the act. Below are a list of some of the major changes that will be in effect as of January 1, 2016:

  • No more use of the word “custody” is the big claim to fame with the new Act. Instead, the court will decide on Allocation of Parental Responsibility. These allocations include who will make decisions related to a child’s health, education, religion and extracurricular activities. One or both parents can be assigned each of the 4 categories of decision making.
  • No more use of the word “visitation” either. Now we will call this category “parenting time.” The term of art is considered more user friendly.
  • No more double trials (we hope). What this means is that temporary support hearings will be heard on a non-evidentiary basis with few exceptions. You will no longer have to call a witness in temporary support hearings. The court will make temporary decisions based on financial affidavits and argument of counsel. There are exceptions to this rule, which will likely apply if a litigant’s financial affidavit is called into question.
  • No more fault grounds. (See our prior blog on this topic). Only the grounds of irreconcilable differences may be plead and the requirement of 2 years of separation is also to become moot. If the parties cannot agree on the date of breakdown of their marriage, then a separation of 6 months will now be required instead of the prior requirement of 2 years.
  • No more heavy dependence on caselaw. Many of the prior cases relied on by the courts have been codified, including the rule that you cannot strike a motion with a motion. (This is legalese that lawyers will understand and many litigants will not.)
  • No more use of the word “removal” if you want to move out of State with a child. Courts will now call this term “relocation” and it is based on mileage (i.e., 25 miles for Chicago-area, 50 miles for less urban areas) instead of crossing State lines. That also means that you can no longer move from Chicago to Peoria without Court permission – a distinct change to in-State litigants. If you want to move to the “Boonies” you may want to do it now.
  • No more reliance on terms such as “mother” and “father” in the Parentage Act, which is an acknowledgement of the rights of same-sex couples and their children.
  • No more pleading of injunction merits in a request for exclusive possession of a marital home, however, the requirement of a spouse or child being jeopardized by continued occupancy of the litigant you are seeking to remove remains.

All of the within laws become effective as of January 1, 2016 irrespective of when your pleading was filed if your matter remains pending at that time. Any matter resolved prior to January 1, 2016 shall follow the current laws and are valid agreements. A discussion point to have with your attorney is whether to get your matter resolved now, under the current laws, or to seek to finalize your matter in year 2016.

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Posted on in Child Custody

childChanges are coming to the custody and visitation portions of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). However, at this time and in prior years, there are distinct differences between the terms “custody” and “visitation.” Many litigants of custody battles do not know if they should be awarded custody of their children.

Each parent to a divorce usually believes they want “custody” of their children. However, often times what that parent is asking is whether the child(ren) can spend more time with one parent than the other. Technically, this is not custody of a child. Technically, under the current statute, the term of art “visitation” determines how much time each parent spends with a child.

Custody, in contrast to time, is decision making. The parent that decides the choice of doctor for a child is making a custody decision as one example (medical decision making). If the parents can agree on the choice of doctor, it may be appropriate to award joint custody to the parents. Other major custody issues involve decision making related to extracurricular activities (enrollment and selection), child care, religious training or lack thereof, and the like. If two parties can agree on all of these decisions, than they are strong candidates for joint custody.

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visitation, non-parental visitation, Illinois family law attorneyUnder Illinois law, grandparents, great-grandparents, and siblings of a minor child who is one year or older, have standing to bring an action in circuit court by a petition requesting visitation. The petition must be filed in the county in which the minor child(ren) reside.

A grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling may file a petition for visitation rights to a minor child if there has been an unreasonable denial of visitation by a parent and at least one of the following conditions exist:

  • The child’s other parent is deceased or has been missing for at least 3 months;
  • A parent of the child is incompetent as a matter of law;
  • A parent has been incarcerated in jail or prison during the 3 month period preceding the filing of the petition;
  • The child’s mother and father are divorced or have been legally separated from each other or there is pending a dissolution proceeding involving a parent of the child or another court proceeding involving a parent of the child or another court proceeding involving custody or visitation of the child and at least one parent does not object to the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling having visitation with the child;
  • The child is born out of wedlock, the parents are not living together, and the petitioner is a maternal grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling of the child born out of wedlock; or
  • The child is born out of wedlock, the parents are not living together, the petitioner is a paternal grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling, and the paternity has been established by court.

If you are a grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling and wish to enforce your rights to visitation, your best chance at success will be to hire an experienced attorney to help you with your case. If you are in need of legal representation in a visitation action, contact Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC at 312- 605-4041 to schedule an initial consultation.

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