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DuPage County divorce lawyer COVID-19 child custodyOver the last few months, it may have become increasingly difficult for you and your co-parent to properly follow your court-approved parenting plan. You both want to fulfill your parental responsibilities and ensure that you can spend a fair amount of parenting time with your kids, but you also do not want to put anyone’s health or safety at risk. Conflicts in these areas may be even worse if you and your co-parent have different philosophies regarding the Illinois Stay-at-Home Order. Governor Pritzker deemed from the beginning of the order that it is essential for parents to honor their court-ordered parenting commitments, but under certain circumstances, doing so might not be a good idea. Here are some things to consider while you both adapt to the “new normal” as co-parents during a crisis:

What to Consider When Addressing Co-Parenting Conflicts

Perhaps your co-parent refuses to wear a mask in public as ordered by the governor, or your co-parent has accused you of not keeping your home sanitary enough during these challenging times. Before getting into a heated argument about these issues, you may want to consider some of these main points when addressing each grievance:

  • Remain calm. Heated arguments will not do anyone any good. During a crisis such as this, contentious disputes can be even more detrimental than under normal circumstances. It certainly will not help your children if they witness any of that behavior, since they likely already dealing with enough stress.

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting time coronavirusGovernor Pritzker has extended the Illinois Stay-at-Home Executive Order through the end of April. This new state government guideline has required many Illinois residents to adjust to a “new normal” in terms of their daily activities. Such a major impact even might affect the terms of your child custody agreements. In some cases, you and your co-parent may agree to make temporary changes to ensure your family’s health and safety during the order, but in other cases, you might need to update your parenting agreement.

4 Ways the Stay-at-Home Order Could Alter Parenting Plans

If you are a divorced or unmarried parent, you might want to revisit your parenting plan in light of the Stay-at-Home Order. While your overall parental responsibilities will likely not be affected, you may need to make adjustments to parenting time schedules, or you might want to include changes that address other issues. Here are some reasons your parenting plan might need to be updated:

  1. Sickness—Obviously, if you or the other co-parent are sick with a dangerous contagious disease, self-quarantine might be necessary, but that does not necessarily mean the sick parent cannot see his/her child. The parent who is not sick should make an effort to let the sick parent visit with the child as regularly planned, even if it is through video conferencing or by telephone.

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DuPage County divorce attorney pregnancy child custodyThere are plenty of legal challenges involved in getting a divorce while pregnant. However, those complications are not the only reasons to give careful thought to whether you want to end your marriage. You are likely to face a variety of emotional and psychological concerns, and you will want to weigh your options to determine the best choice for you and your family. Here is a closer look at some of the reasons you may choose to postpone or cancel divorce if you are pregnant:

Reasons Not to Divorce While Pregnant

While there are a wide variety of reasons you may believe that your marriage is beyond repair, it is often best to avoid hasty decisions, especially when you are about to experience a life-changing event upon the birth of your child. Here are some of the more significant and prevalent examples of why you should think long and hard before beginning the divorce process while you are pregnant:

  1. Do Not Rush Into Anything—You might be overwhelmed and stressed because of your pregnancy, and perhaps your marital troubles did not begin until after you became pregnant. Pregnancy can alter your perception of things in ways that are much more ephemeral than you might realize. In that sense, you should not make any rash decisions while pregnant, especially if there is even the slightest possibility that you will regret them in the future.

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DuPage County parenting time lawyerIn our previous blog post, we focused primarily on what are considered the best interests of the child in child custody cases. The “best interests of the child standard” by which courts in Illinois make child custody determinations has been in the news in Illinois for the last few years due to fathers’ rights advocacy groups and other organizations that have been supporting new Illinois “shared parenting” bills.

Proposed Changes to Illinois Law

In 2017, HB4113 was filed with the Illinois General Assembly. This bill sought to change Illinois family laws to state that 50/50 shared parenting is presumed to be in the best interests of the child from the start of a child custody case. After much controversy and protest, that bill was not passed. However, in February 2109, State Representative La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) sponsored a new equal parenting time bill: HB185. While many advocacy groups believe this new iteration will be a fair change to the law, other legal professionals are less optimistic. In fact, the Illinois State Bar Association is in opposition to the bill.

More than four decades ago, Professor Leigh H. Taylor published an article in the DePaul Law Review (Volume 24, Issue 2, Winter 1975, Article 14), concluding that “Uncertainty can be removed and the best interest of children can be made more ascertainable only when the courts attempt to identify the interests involved and provide comprehensively reasoned opinions. Then it can be said that they are furthering the best interest of children.” In a sense, HB185 is a continuation of this thought. According to some lawmakers and advocates, this equal parenting bill would presume that both partners should have equal parenting time from the start, and only after the judge provides a comprehensive explanation with substantial, deliberative reasoning will the parents be able to deviate from that 50/50 allocation of parenting time.

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DuPage County child relocation attorneyThese days, with the world at your fingertips through the Internet, it is easier than ever to find a new job or locate a new house, making parental relocation even more likely than it might have been in the past. Unfortunately, after divorce, if you or your ex-spouse decides to relocate, this can further complicate parental responsibilities and parenting time. In fact, custodial issues surrounding relocation require courtroom proceedings in which the ex-spouse requesting a move must demonstrate that the relocation is in the best interest of the child. If any of this is the case with you or your ex-spouse, consider this advice to make sure you and your children continue to have a positive relationship despite the move.

What Happens if You or Your Ex-Spouse Decides to Relocate

Overall, parental relocation usually requires modification of child custody orders and changes to a parenting plan. Relocation often leads to drastic changes in parenting time, and while many couples prefer to simply agree to the terms of these agreements and plans verbally, these types of oral declarations are not enforceable by law. In order to ensure that the rights of all parties are protected, it is usually best to seek the assistance of a lawyer and develop a legally binding agreement. Relocation is especially challenging if one of you wants to move out of state, much farther away from the other ex-spouse and the child’s current location.

What Happens When the Court Gets Involved in Relocation Plans

Parental relocation—and child relocation in particular—might require courtroom intervention. Usually, the parent requesting relocation strongly believes the move will greatly benefit the child, while the other parent may worry that his/her relationship with the child will be adversely affected by the move. In situations like these, it is reasonable for you, your ex-spouse, and your respective lawyers to seek the counsel and subsequent decision of a judge.

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