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Naperville child custody attorneyIn Illinois, child custody is broken down into two main components: parental responsibilities and parenting time. Formerly known as visitation, parenting time refers to the time a parent spends directly caring for his or her child. Illinois courts make all child custody decisions based on the child’s best interests. In some cases, the court may decide that supervised parenting time is necessary to ensure the safety of the child.  

When is Supervised Visitation Required?

Supervised visits may be ordered anytime that there is concern about a parent’s ability to adequately care for a child and ensure the child’s safety. Often, supervised visitation is required because the parent has been accused of domestic violence or abuse. This abuse may have been directed at the child, the other parent, or another party. Supervised visitation may also be required if a parent has a severe mental illness, substance abuse problem, or addiction that could endanger the child. The court may also require supervised visits if the parent has previously neglected the child or there is a concern that the parent could attempt to kidnap the child.

What Happens During Supervised Parenting Time?

If you are required to have supervised parenting time, you may be unsure of what to expect. It can be awkward and uncomfortable to have someone watch you spend time with your child. Often, the best way to deal with supervised parenting time is to pretend that the supervisor is not there. Spend time with your child like you normally would. Do not feel like you must “put on a show” for the supervisor or act differently. Demonstrate your commitment to being a good parent by showing up for your visitation period on time. Never consume drugs or alcohol prior to your visit, even if drug or alcohol use is not the specific reason for the supervision requirements. During the visitation, find something to do with your child that you both enjoy. This could be playing a game, reading a story together, working on a craft or project, or another type of age-appropriate activity.

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Naperville divorce mediation attorneysParents who are getting divorced in Illinois are asked to create a “parenting plan” or parenting agreement which describes the way they plan to share parenting time and responsibilities. There are over a dozen issues which must be addressed in the plan, including when the child will live with each parent, how the child will be transported between homes, how future modifications to the plan will be handled, and more. Family law mediation may be particularly beneficial to divorcing couples with child-related disputes. If you and your spouse are planning to divorce, mediation may enable you to design a parenting plan that benefits you as well as your children.  

Mediation Allows Both Parents to Express Ideas and Concerns

There are only two ways that Illinois parenting plans are created: through an agreement between the parents or through the court. Child custody litigation can be stressful, expensive, and can lead parents to be even more resentful of each other. Furthermore, when the court makes a decision about parental responsibilities and parenting time on the parents’ behalf, the parents have much less direct input. Through mediation, you and your spouse will have the opportunity to express your wishes, ideas, and concerns. The mediator is unbiased and will make sure that each spouse has the opportunity to express his or her opinions.

An Experienced Mediator Will Keep Discussions Focused and Productive

Ineffective communication is often one of the largest sources of conflict in a marriage – or a divorce. If you are like many divorcing couples, you probably struggle to discuss divorce issues like child custody or property division without getting off topic or becoming upset. A family law mediator is specially trained in conflict resolution and negotiation. He or she will guide the conversation and help discussions remain focused, on-topic, and productive.

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DuPage County family law attorneysWhen it becomes evident that you are headed for divorce, it is important to start planning for the process. You will need to have a good understanding of your current financial situation and what constitutes your ideal post-divorce scenario. Depending upon the circumstances of your relationship with your spouse, you may be able to begin negotiating the terms of your divorce agreement. At first, of course, such discussions would need to be relatively informal, but you and your spouse can at least start talking about the future. The conversation is even more important if you have a child or children together, so that you can both better understand the role you are to play in your child’s upbringing.

Determine a Primary Residence

Among your first child-related concerns should be which parent will assume responsibility for a majority of the parenting time. This is an important consideration in determining where the child will attend school. The parent who does not have the majority of the parenting time will most likely be responsible for paying child support. Just because one of you has less parenting time than the other is not considered to be a reflection on your parental rights; rather it is more of a logistical determination.

Significant Decision-Making

You and your spouse will also need to discuss how you will make significant decisions regarding your child’s life. You may agree to cooperate and make each decision together, or you may determine that each of you should have separate but complementary responsibilities for decisions about your child’s education, medical care, or religious training. You and your spouse may have particular areas of strength or strong feelings about a specific area of your child’s life that make one of you better equipped to handle related decisions.

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