first refusal, Illinois Law, Geneva family law attorneyAfter a divorce or other situation leading to the creation of a child custody order, most parents are granted certain amounts of time with their child or children. This time may be rather significant, as would be the case for a parent who was awarded sole custody of a child, or it may be relatively limited, as would be the case for a parent with visitation for a few days each month. For many other parents, their time with the child often falls somewhere in between. Challenges may arise, however, when, for whatever reason, a single or divorced parent needs to find alternative care for the child during his or her arranged parenting time. In such situations, the Illinois law regarding the “right of first refusal” may be invoked.

Child Custody and Right of First Refusal

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, any child custody arrangement involving joint custody or rights of visitation may also include provisions for the right of first refusal. The terms of first refusal rights may be amicably negotiated by the parties or determined and awarded by the court to one or both parents. As with most child-related issues, the best interest of the child is expected to remain the highest priority in making such a determination.

child representative, child custody, Illinois family lawyerAny legal matter related to children can quickly become emotionally charged and fraught with challenges. Parents, especially those going through a bitter divorce or separation, can often have trouble remaining objective and keeping their child’s best interest a priority. In such cases, the court may choose to appoint an independent attorney as a Child Representative to serve the child’s needs without emotional complications.

Child Representative Situations

Frequently in child custody, support, and visitation cases, the interested parties are dealing with a number of contentious issues related to the end of a marriage. Unmarried couples, as well, may struggle to remain civil as the end of any relationship can lead to feelings of anger, betrayal, and confusion about the future.

shared custody, child support, Illinois family lawyerWhen you share custody of your child, it may feel reasonable to assume that neither parent should be required to pay child support. With shared custody, both parents are expected to contribute to the child’s overall well-being by providing food, shelter, clothing, and covering necessary educational costs in a cooperative manner. However, the laws, as they are currently written in the state of Illinois, may still lead judges to require the payment of child support, even in shared custody arrangements.

Child Support in Illinois

Illinois law regarding child support is considered by many to be a bit antiquated as it relates to modern parenting situations. The basic principles of the statute indicate that the court is recommended to require that a supporting parent pay child support as a set percentage of his or her net income. While the law provides some discretion to the court for deviation from the recommendation, most such changes are made based on consideration of income, resources, and needs. This means that factors such as parenting time and parental responsibilities may be frequently ignored as they are not statutorily specified considerations for the court.

joint custody, joint parenting agreement, Illinois Child Custody AgreementUnmarried or divorced parents generally share at least one common interest: the well-being of their children. Following a break up or divorce, however, the law requires arrangements regarding the children to be established and custody may be granted to one parent solely or to both parents under a joint custody order.

When parents are granted joint custody of child, each parent retains equal decision-making power related to the child. This means that parents will be expected to work together to provide for their child and to make decisions related to health care, education, religion, rules and discipline, and other practical considerations. When petitioning for joint custody, parents must demonstrate their commitment to such an arrangement by developing and presenting to the court a Joint Parenting Agreement, or JPA.

Joint Parenting Agreement

online safety, internet safety, child custody, coparentingYou may not be familiar with the term “coparenting,” but if you have a shared custody arrangement with your child’s other parent, you are probably already doing it. Coparenting refers to a cooperative effort between divorced, or otherwise separated, parents who have decided to work together in providing the best possible situation for their child. There are countless articles and helpful guides from experts on the most important aspects of coparenting or rules for doing it correctly, but they all seem to revolve around two basic concepts: communication and consistency.

Communication is vital, not only to maintaining that consistency, but to upholding the trust of both your ex-spouse and your child. Consistency helps your child feel secure in each parent’s home, as many rules and expectations remain the same. While some rules might be more bendable, such as getting to watch a little extra TV on a particular night, others should be less flexible, not only for the sake of discipline, but your child’s safety. If your child has reached an age where he or she has begun to utilize internet resources for research or entertainment, rules regarding online safety must be established as non-negotiable in both parents’ homes.

The United States Department of Justice, as well as child welfare organizations, offer some tips for keeping your child safe online:

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