wishes of the child, parental responsibilities, Geneva divorce attorneyToo often, parents who are going through a divorce focus their energies on fighting with one another rather than on finding workable solutions for raising their children. Under Illinois law, divorcing parents are expected to develop a cooperative plan that addresses the allocation of parental responsibilities—once called child custody. Such an agreement, however, is not always possible, and the matter is left to the court to decide. During the proceedings, each parent will the opportunity make his or her case, which will be taken into account by the judge. But what about the child? Does the child get a say in how parental responsibilities are allocated?

The Wishes of the Child

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act clearly provides that, yes, the wishes of the child are to be considered by the court in a proceeding related to decision-making responsibilities or parenting time. The law, however, does include an important caveat. The court must also take “into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences.”

parental responsibilities, Geneva family law attorneysRun a quick search on any parenting or legal advice forum and you will see a fairly common concern. Many single parents—mothers, most often—have built a life for themselves and their children based on sole custody situations. The arrangement may have been the result of a court order or as a default scenario due to the other parent’s disappearance from the child’s life. However it may have happened, the child’s reality is a life with just one parent who saves, sacrifices, and manages to make it work.  

So what happens when the absent parent suddenly decides he wants to participate in the child’s upbringing? If he pushes the issue, will the court upset the stability the custodial parent provides? Under the law, the court does have such authority, but, in doing so, must always consider the child’s best interests.

Sole Custody and Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities

child support, Geneva child support attorneyUnder Illinois law, a supporting parent is usually required to pay at least 20 percent of their net income to their former spouse to support a child, a percentage that only goes up with each additional child to be supported. The exact percentage of child support that must be paid should be recorded in the divorce decree. In many cases, however, supporting parents are unable to make these payments because of changing financial circumstances, or are unwilling to meet their obligations for some other reason. If this has arisen in your situation, you do not have to accept your former spouse’s noncompliance with the court order. You can take him or her to court and require that they show cause as to why they are not paying child support.

Filing a Petition for Rule to Show Cause

A petition for rule to show cause is a motion filed with the court after it has entered an order directing one or both parties to do something. In a petition for rule to show cause, the petitioner asks the court to have the other party come before it and explain why they are not following the court order. As applied to child support proceedings, this means making your former spouse appear before the judge to explain why they are not making child support payments.

father-daughter, Geneva family lawyer Most people are very aware that divorce can have a tremendous impact on children. The new reality created by divorce often creates a great deal of emotional turmoil and instability, feelings that children, in particular, are not generally equipped to handle well. Parents, of course, are always encouraged to pay close attention to the needs of their sons and daughters throughout the divorce process and beyond, but the relationship between a father and daughter may suffer the most. If left unaddressed, the impact can long-lasting, potentially affecting the daughter’s interpersonal relationships with males for the rest of her life.

According to family and relationship experts, a girl has a much better chance of growing into well-adjusted, self-confident woman if she shares a close bond with her father. Conversely, a damaged relationship between them can create serious self-esteem and trust issues for the daughter. In a divorce, professional indicate, the father-daughter bond is particularly vulnerable for several reasons:

  • More time with mom: Girls may not get to spend as much quality time with their fathers due to the nature of most post-divorce parenting situations;
  • “Intense, complicated” relationships: As girls reach early teen years, they often feel removed from their fathers, while the connections with their mothers may be too close, too involved, or too conflicted;
  • Female influences: In many cases, a girls’ mother or step-mother may not fully recognize the importance of the father-daughter closeness, therefore, it may not be encouraged; and
  • Lack of tools: Dads may not how to connect with their little—and no-so-little—girls, finding it difficult to choose activities that both enjoy, eventually leading to less time together.

Experts do realize that it is not usually “a lack of love that stops an estranged father from reconnecting with his child—it’s the fear of rejection.” With that in mind, fathers are encouraged to “court” their children to find common ground on which a new relationship can be built.

relocation, Geneva family law attorneyAs you try to provide for your children, it is important to stay aware of any and all potential opportunities that may arise. Sometimes, these opportunities may require you to move out of the area, and in some cases, to a different state. When children are not a consideration, it is relatively easy to pick up and move, and start a life in a new location. When a custody order—or a parenting plan under the updated law—is involved, you will need to understand what the law requires before you attempt a relocation.

Relocation Defined

The same measure that updated the state’s provisions on child custody also clarified what constitutes a relocation. Under the previous version of the law, only an out-of-state move required special consideration. Beginning this year, however, the updated statute provides direction on what a parental relocation is and the steps necessary in completing one.

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