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dupage county parenting time lawyerSummer is right around the corner and many people are planning their vacations. After a year spent in pandemic lockdowns and away from loved ones, widespread vaccinations and the lifting of COVID-19 regulations in many states means that many families are looking forward to visiting grandparents and traveling to destinations to just have fun again.  While children often look forward to these trips, divorced parents sometimes suffer angst over them. The thought of their ex-spouse taking their child to another state – or even another country – can cause a great deal of anxiety, especially if the relationship between the parents is a contentious one.

In most parenting time situations, how one parent chooses to spend their parenting time with their child does not need to be approved by the other parent. However, if a parent wants to take the child out of state or out of the country, the parent is required to let the co-parent know of the plans and provide details about the trip.

In cases where the parent is taking the child out of the country for vacation, the child will need a passport and may also need certain immunizations. In order to obtain a passport for a minor, both parents are required to show parental consent. This means that either the parents need to go together in person to apply for the child’s passport or the other parent must give permission by completing the Statement of Consent form. The form must be signed in the presence of a notary and include a copy of the parent’s ID.

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Naperville family law attorneysIllinois law tries, whenever possible, to allow both parents to have parenting time—also called visitation—with their children. However, sometimes that is difficult to manage due to one or both parents’ having issues that would make it unsafe for them to be around their children alone. The answer to this problem is to have supervised or restricted visitation, and to see how a parent fares before permitting him or her to engage in unsupervised visitation.

General Parenting Time Guidelines

A standard visitation agreement is often rather vague, allowing the parents themselves to regulate the terms of the visits. The parent with fewer parental responsibilities entitled, as a general rule, to parenting time unless a court disagrees, and in many instances, the parents are able to work out a schedule that suits all involved. However, if one parent has issues, the court may take action.

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Posted on in Visitation

DuPage County visitation lawyersIn Illinois, only parents are entitled to visitation rights with their children. However, in certain situations, non-parent relatives such as grandparents, great-grandparents or siblings may petition for visitation rights. Whether or not they will be granted depends on the facts of the case, but the law does allow for such considerations in certain situation.

Statutory Authority

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act grants parents the right to visitation—now known as parenting time—with their children. This right is generally upheld in all but the most extreme circumstances. Illinois courts tend to be of the opinion that children are best served by having both parents in their lives and have expressed this belief even in cases where one or both parents are incarcerated or profoundly mentally ill. The only criteria the court uses to deny parenting time is if it finds that spending time with a particular parent would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health.

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Posted on in Visitation

Naperville family law attorneyIn many cases, a family court will be called upon to reach a compromise regarding parenting time between a child’s mother and father. Sometimes, however, a person who is not a biological parent may be entitled to seek visitation rights with the child. Seeking visitation does not necessarily mean it will be granted, and under Illinois law, parents’ decisions regarding visits with their children generally enjoy deference from the courts.

The Decisions of “Fit” Parents

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the state recognizes that a child’s preferred primary caregivers, if they are fit, are the biological parents. The law also allows grandparents (or great-grandparents), stepparents, and siblings to file for visitation if the requirements to do so are met. However, there is a rebuttable presumption that any visitation-related decision made by biological parents with regard to who their children may see is justifiable and will be upheld by the courts.

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Posted on in Visitation

DuPage County family law attorneyIllinois family courts tend to follow guidelines and case precedent when issuing divorce decrees, especially absent any input from the spouses themselves regarding the disposition of issues like parenting time. However, sometimes a parenting plan will need to be modified, and it is important to realize that there are certain requirements that must be followed before a change will be permitted.

Family Court Has Authority

The most important thing to realize going in is that only family courts may make definitive adjustments to divorce decrees. You are welcome to work out an agreement with your ex-spouse regarding parenting time or support, but these agreements do not have the force of law. A court will not abide by them unless you have these unofficial agreements added to your decree. It matters especially if you and your spouse have a tumultuous relationship and one of you is likely to fail to live up to your agreement.

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