Category Archives: Child Custody

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Out With the Old & In With the New: Big Changes to the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution of Marriage Act

On January 1, 2016, many changes took effect with regard to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA” or “Act”). The revised statute looks very different from the law Illinois family law attorneys and their clients have come to know. Detailed below are some noteworthy areas where the law concerning divorce, parenting, and property division has changed.

Changes to Grounds for Divorce:

The revised IMDMA has eliminated all fault-based grounds for divorce. Since 1977, Illinois has had both “no-fault” and “fault-based” grounds for divorce. Now, couples in Illinois are left with a single ground for divorce, “irreconcilable differences”. Additionally, the revised statute eliminates the two (2) year separation period previously required to dissolve a marriage. The aforementioned provision was replaced with a six (6) month separation period which provides, “If the parties live separate and apart for a continuous period of not less than 6 months immediately preceding the entry of the judgment dissolving the marriage, there is an irrebuttable presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met.” 750 ILCS 5/401(a-5). Thus, an individual seeking a divorce in Illinois now only needs to assert that irreconcilable differences have led to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the parties have lived separate and apart for six (6) consecutive months by the time a judgment of divorce is entered. Litigants should be aware that living separate and apart does not mean an actual physical separation of the divorcing spouses. The parties merely must cease living together as a husband and wife would for at least six (6) months; however, effectuating this requirement can take place while living under the same roof. read more

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Post-Decree Litigation

Post decree

Types of Post-Decree Litigation

Think you’re done with your ex once your divorce is finalized?

While that is surely the goal, not everyone is so lucky.  Many former spouses find themselves back in court years after the entry of their divorce judgments seeking to either a modify or enforce their divorce decrees.

Post-decree includes all litigation that occurs after a decree of divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or judgment of paternity is entered. Post-decree lawyers will often receive inquiries from former or new clients requesting one or more of the following: read more

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Divorce in a Nutshell

While every divorce is different based on the parties, in general divorce law can be boiled down to 5 main areas:

Child custody

Visitation or Parenting Time

Child Support

Maintenance or Alimony

Property Division

Child Custody

What many people tend to misunderstanding about child custody is that it actually is NOT the time spent with your children.  Rather custody involves having the decision making authority to be able to decide the so-called “big decisions” that involve the upbringing of your children.  The three decision-making areas that the law focuses on are religion, medical care, and education.  Parents must be able to agree on these three areas in order to be eligible for joint custody.  Elsewise sole custody is generally sought and a custody battle ensues. read more

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How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce?

how long does it take to get a divorce

If there is one question that those embarking on a divorce are sure to ask their lawyer, you can bet the question is: How long does it take to get a divorce? Understandably, parties going through a divorce are always concerned about how long their case will last for many reasons, whether it be because of the impact on their children, the cost of the process, or planning the potential move from a residence.

When asked how long does it take to get a divorce, I always explain that unfortunately there is not a clear and concise answer I can give. Divorce can be over and done in a week and divorces can go on for many years. It all depends on the situation at hand and every case is different. What I can tell my clients is that there are numerous factors that will impact the time your divorce will take. read more

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What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

parental alienation syndrome

Parental alienation syndrome is a growing concern paralleling the rise of divorce and children born out of wedlock over the past few decades. This relatively new phenomenon has spiked major disputes from both the legal and psychological communities as to how to identify and manage the condition. 

Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is considered “brainwashing” because one parent will routinely talk about the other parent to the child in a derogatory manner to the point that the child begins to harbor the same beliefs. This manipulative behavior can be highly destructive and can cause long-term detriment to parent/child relationships. It can also have a negative impact on the child’s psychological development. read more

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Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody

joint custody

Sole custody in Illinois is generally defined as one parent being the primary decision maker for the minor child or children on the areas of: medical, education and religion. If you have sole custody, you most likely have the authority to make important decisions pertaining to your child’s life without having to consult with or obtain permission from the other parent. Joint custody in Illinois, on the other hand, provides both parents with decision making authority. As such, joint custody requires communication, collaboration, and compromise. read more

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Sole Custody in Illinois

sole custody in illinois

One of the biggest topics in family law is the issue of child custody. It’s fair to say that almost all parents unequivocally want the best for their children. Regardless of this fact, parents continue to have difficulties or inabilities to agree on important matters involving the well being of their children. When such instances arise that negatively affect the child, usually one parent will file for sole custody. There are very specific guidelines governing the issue of sole custody in Illinois.  This blog post outlines the main parameters a judge takes into consideration when awarding custody.   Child custody cases center around how well each parent can work alongside the other to achieve beneficial results for the child[ren]. Some things that are taken into account are: medical decisions, religion, education, extracurricular activities, the extended family and the child’s emotional and financial well being. If the parent’s viewpoints’ collide on the three major areas: medical, education and religion, sole custody is generally sought and awarded. read more

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What is a Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative?

guardian ad litem

If you are a parent involved in a custody or parenting time dispute in the Circuit Court of Cook County chances are you have heard of, or are seeking the assistance from, a guardian ad litem or child representative to represent your child(ren) in court. A guardian ad litem or child representative is a licensed attorney who is a neutral third party that advocates for the well being of the child most commonly in child custody cases, divorce, child support or paternity suits.  While the role of guardian ad litem is similar to that of a child representative, the statute distinguishes some key differences between the two.  If an attorney is appointed on behalf of your child(ren), it is important to know which title has been given to them by the court. read more

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Acknowledgement of Paternity in Illinois

acknowledgement of paternity

Finding out you are expecting a baby can bring out a flood of emotions. The initial news can be both joyful and scary. Many couples plan on having children while many others find out unexpectedly. If you are no longer in a relationship, having relationship issues, or have no intentions of staying with your partner, the news of expecting a child may not be pleasant. Furthermore, if you are uncertain if you are the child’s father, the news can be frightening and downright shocking.

Although statistics tend to vary slightly, roughly half of all children born in the USA are born to unmarried parents. Though single parenthood is both common and accepted, that still does not alleviate the sadness and angst many parents experience when faced with the possibility that they may be primarily raising a child alone or with limited support (emotionally and financially) from the other parent. read more

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Child Custody Terminology Explained

portrait of a father with his son (10-14) and daughter (8-10)

There are many frequently used phrases that describe various child custody arrangements. Although they may explain underlying purposes, many are not legal terms recognized under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Some popular child custody terms include:

Sole custody

Joint custody

Residential custody

Legal custody

Full custody

Split custody

Shared custody

Needless to say, it’s easy to see why so much confusion arises when discussing child custody. The State of Illinois legally recognizes two types of child custody arrangements: sole custody and joint custody. read more

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