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dupage county divorce lawyerWe love our pets in this country. It is estimated that there are more than 76 million companion pets living in American households. For most of us, our pets are not simply “pets,” but they are part of our family. But what happens when a couple who has one or more furry family members decide to divorce? As a DuPage County divorce attorney can explain, custody of pets can get just as contentious as custody of children in an Illinois divorce.

Illinois Pet Custody Laws

Until a few years ago, Illinois family law judges viewed pets in a divorce as property and treated the decision as to where the pet would live the same way they decided who would get the fine china or ATV. In 2018, lawmakers addressed this issue and changed the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) about how judges could address this issue.

The first change in the law was now referring to pets as “companion animals.” Keep in mind, however, companion animals are entirely separate from service animals. If a spouse has a service animal, as defined in the Illinois Human Care for Animals Act, that service animal is not included in the divorce settlement.

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naperville child custody lawyerIn divorce and family law cases involving children, it is usually assumed that both parents will continue to play an active role in their children’s lives. Parents will need to work together to provide for their children’s needs, and as part of their divorce decree or child custody order, they will be required to create a parenting plan. This document will set down all of the decisions that are made about how parents will share custody of their children, and it will be a legally binding court order that they will both be required to follow. By understanding the issues addressed in their parenting plan, parents can ensure that they know their rights and responsibilities toward their children.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Some of the key issues that a parenting plan will address will involve the parents’ responsibilities in making decisions about how their children will be raised. Illinois law specifies that parents may divide or share decision-making responsibilities in the areas of education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. In many cases, parents will share these responsibilities equally, but depending on the roles that each parent has played when making decisions for their children in the past and the parents’ ability to work together to make these decisions, different areas of responsibility may be allocated solely or primarily to one parent.

Parenting Time Schedules and Related Terms

What is sometimes referred to as physical custody or visitation is known in Illinois as parenting time. A parenting plan will fully detail the amount of time children will spend in each parent’s care, either by including a schedule for parenting time or a formula to be used to determine how parenting time will be allocated. A parenting time schedule should specify when children will be staying at each parent’s home on weekdays and weekends during the school year, and it should also address days that fall outside of that regular schedule, including school vacations, major holidays, and any other special days, such as children’s or parents’ birthdays.

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naperville prenuptial agreement lawyerThe majority of couples who decide to get married envision a  life together forever. They often imagine having a family, making memories, and growing old together. They may also feel that any discussion about a prenuptial agreement deflates all the romance out of planning their wedding, or they may think that having a prenup means that you do not believe your marriage will last.

The reality is, however, that almost 50 percent of all first marriages end in divorce. That rate is even higher – 60 percent – for second marriages. And if it is your third marriage, national statistics say you have a 73 percent chance the marriage will fail. Prenuptial agreements can make a significant difference if a couple does end up getting a divorce, saving time and money, and avoiding contentious divorce negotiations.

But We Are Not Rich

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