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Chicago child custody lawyerIf you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you will be tasked with creating a child custody agreement that will work for both of you as well as for your child. You will want to make sure that you have a solid parenting plan in place so that there are stability and routine for your child during this time of transition. One issue that you may have to consider is whether the right of first refusal should be included in your child custody agreement.

The right of first refusal is the right of one parent to be given the opportunity to care for their child before anyone else. This means that if the other parent is unable to care for the child for any reason, the parent with the right of first refusal would be contacted first to see if they are available to fill in. This may mean that grandparents or other family members would only handle care for children if the other parent is unavailable.

There are a number of reasons that the right of first refusal may benefit you, your spouse, and your child. However, there are some downsides to consider as well. By evaluating the circumstances of your specific situation, the needs of all parties involved, and the best ways to avoid potential conflict, you can determine how to handle issues related to the right of first refusal as you determine how to handle child custody during your divorce.

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Chicago family lawyerAs a divorced or single parent, you understand how challenging it can be to provide all the things your child needs to thrive. In an ideal situation, your child’s other parent would also be committed to helping, both financially and as an active participant in the child’s life. But what happens when you want to pursue opportunities that would force you to relocate to a new city or state with your child? Do you have the right to simply pick up and move? As with most issues of family law and co-parenting, the answer depends on the circumstances of your particular situation.

Evolving Laws

For many years, the laws in Illinois were fairly subjective about moving with your child. While there was no specific prohibition or distance limitations for an in-state move, if the move presented major obstacles to an existing custody or visitation order, it could potentially be challenged in court. An out-of-state move with a child subject to a custody or visitation order statutorily required the other parent’s consent or an overriding court order.

Thanks to changes in the law that were made a few years ago, the expectations and restrictions on moving with a child are now much clearer. As part of the update that transformed child custody into the allocation of parental responsibilities, lawmakers made the entire statute far easier to understand for all parties involved.

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Park Ridge custody attorneyWhen parents divorce or unmarried parents break up, they will need to determine how to raise their children. In Illinois, the two main components of child custody are the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. Understandably, many parents have strong opinions about how to handle parenting duties, childcare, and other child-related matters. When parents have different opinions, the situation can quickly escalate. What starts as a minor disagreement can turn into a full-blown custody battle.

If you are in a situation like this, know that you are not alone and that you have options. An experienced family law attorney knowledgeable in child custody matters can help you understand these options and take the next steps.  As you navigate the process, keep the following tips in mind: 

Educate Yourself About Illinois Child Custody Law

Each state handles child custody differently. In Illinois, divorcing parents are asked to create a “parenting plan.” This document describes how the parents will share parenting time (formerly called visitation) and parental responsibilities (decision-making authority over the child). There are over a dozen specific elements you must address in the parenting plan. Reading through this information can help you prepare a well-thought-out plan.

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IL Family Law Attorney for Parental RightsIllinois law presumes that parents have the ability to adequately care for their children and provide a safe living environment. Consequently, anyone who has established parentage or paternity of a child is entitled to certain parental rights. Among these rights is the right to be awarded “parenting time” or time with the child. However, some parents will need to take steps to gain parental rights. Furthermore, some circumstances may lead to the restriction or termination of a parent’s parental rights.

When Does a Parent Have a Right to Visitation?

Parenting time, which used to be called “visitation,” is the time that a parent watches his or her child and cares for the child’s everyday needs. Divorced parents allocate parenting time in their parenting plan. However, in order to be entitled to parenting time, unmarried fathers may need to establish paternity. Paternity may be established by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) upon the child’s birth or through a judicial or administrative process.

Parents may be subject to a parenting time restriction if there are concerns that normal parenting time may endanger the child’s health or wellbeing. Parenting time restrictions may include a reduction of parenting time, supervised visits, or, in rare cases, the total elimination of the parent’s parenting time.     

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