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DuPage County child custody attorneysDivorcing and unmarried parents sometimes have disagreements about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. When these disagreements require court intervention, an Illinois family court judge may appoint an attorney called a guardian ad litem who is tasked with representing the child’s interests. A parent involved in a child custody dispute may also request a guardian ad litem (GAL) to appointed during a child-related legal dispute.

Guardian ad Litem Investigations

GALs are often appointed in family law cases involving especially contentious child-related disputes or allegations of domestic violence. Because children cannot adequately advocate for their own best interests in court, a guardian ad litem advocates on the child’s behalf. The GAL will typically conduct an investigation in order to learn more about the circumstances of the dispute so that he or she can offer an informed recommendation to the court. This can include investigating the parents’ homes and everyday lives as well as investigation of other individuals important to the case. The GAL may also interview school officials or other people involved in the child’s life. He or she may review court documents, financial statements, the child’s school reports, and other relevant documents.

Making a Recommendation to the Court

Once the guardian ad litem has conducted a thorough investigation, he or she will use all of the information gathered to decide what he or she thinks is best for the child with regard to the child custody case. The GAL then makes a formal recommendation to the court explaining his or her findings. GALs receive special training and are considered expert witnesses during legal proceedings. Although the court is not mandated to follow the GAL’s recommendation, courts typically put a great deal of importance on the GAL’s advice.

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Naperville family law attorneysWhen parents get divorced and wish to share custody of their child in Illinois, they are expected by the court to create a parenting plan. This plan outlines how parental responsibilities will be shared as well as how decisions about the child’s upbringing will be made after the divorce is finalized. There are certain elements of a parenting plan that are required under Illinois laws, but many experts suggest including other aspects of childrearing in the plan as well.

If you are considering a divorce, it is a good idea to learn about what you must include in a parenting plan. A qualified family law attorney can help you make your parenting plan the foundation of a healthy co-parenting relationship.

Requirements for Illinois Parenting Plan

At a minimum, a parenting plan in Illinois must include:

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DuPage County divorce attorneysThe decision to end your marriage is never an easy one, but perhaps no other group has as difficult of a decision to make as parents. Many parents try everything they can to stay together, but ultimately decide that they simply cannot make their marriage work. If you are a parent who has decided to divorce, you probably spend a lot of time worrying about how the divorce will affect your children. While it is likely that the transition will be challenging for the whole family, children are fully capable of living a happy, healthy life with divorced parents. Read on to learn the top three tips experts say will help your children cope with your divorce.

Tip #1: Do Not Fight in Front of the Kids

The number one thing that mental health and child development experts say not to do during divorce is to fight with your spouse in front of the children. Because children naturally have a self-centered view of the world around them, they often think that parental arguments are somehow their fault. It is best to keep adult conversations away from the children whenever possible. If you need to have a heated discussion with your spouse, try to find a place which is out of kids’ earshot to do so.

Tip #2: Allow Children to Express Their Feelings When They Are Able

Children can have a wide range of reactions to the news that their parents are getting divorced. While some will immediately start crying and expressing their sadness about the split, others will not immediately be ready to discuss their feelings. Try to give children the space they need to process the complicated emotions that come with this major life change. Let them know that you are available to talk and answer questions, but do not force the conversation. When children are ready to talk, they will, as long as they feel safe to express themselves.

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