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Geneva family law attorneyWhen parents are unable to agree on the allocation of parental responsibilities or on a parenting time schedule, judges will often appoint an evaluator to study the situation and make recommendations. Often judges will adopt most, or even all, of the recommendations of the selected evaluator. Therefore, you need to understand how such an evaluation works.

Appointing the Evaluator

Judges have the discretion to appoint a custody or parental responsibilities evaluator when deemed to be necessary based on the circumstances of a particular case. Some judges will simply appoint an evaluator from a court-approved list. Other times, a judge will provide the parties a few names and ask them to agree on an evaluator. Many, if not most, evaluators are psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals.

child custody, coparenting, Geneva family law attorneyWe have all heard it a hundred times. Someone you know is going through a nasty divorce and, while they may spare you the details, it is often clear that your friend is determined to “win” at all costs. He or she feels wronged by the other spouse and may go to great lengths to get what feels like justice. In many cases, “winning” or “losing” is a financial or property value outcome, with the “winning” spouse getting a satisfactory share of the marital estate. For parents, however, the stakes are even higher, and in too many cases, children are used as leverage in the raging war between divorcing spouses. Thanks to recent updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, parents will be expected to adhere to a higher standard of cooperation and to remain invested in serving the child’s best interests, no matter what the relationship between the adults may be.

Allocated Parental Responsibilities

Whether we like to admit it or not, language is very powerful and the words we use can impact not only our message, but our psychological approach to the subject as well. Consider the idea of child custody. Under the existing law, legal custody is awarded as sole or joint custody, making each parent either a custodial parent or non-custodial parent. These titles can be extremely divisive, as a non-custodial parent, for example, may feel like he or she has been relegated to a second-class level of parenting.

holidays, custody, Geneva Family Law AttorneyWith Halloween now a fading memory, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years are just around the corner. Virtually everyone looks forward to spending at least part of holidays with family members and loved ones. For divorced, separated, or never-married parents, however, it can be challenging to come up with a plan that ensures the children get the holiday experience they deserve while recognizing the rights and reasonable desires of each parent.

Check Your Custody Order

Depending on the type of legal guidance you had while developing your existing custody or visitation agreement, you may already have a plan in place for the holiday season. Some orders specifically list each holiday that is important to either or both parents and designates a method for sharing parenting time, based on each particular family’s situation. For example, in your family it may be best to each spend half the day with your child on holidays you have determined to be major holidays, such as Christmas, while holidays that are less important to your family may be alternated.

Posted on in Divorce

remarriage, Illinois law, Geneva family law attorneyWhile the divorce rate seems to have stabilized in recent years, and may even, in fact, be falling, nearly one million American marriages are legally dissolved each year. Many individuals, however, are unwilling to give up entirely on the idea of marital happiness. According to a study conducted the Pew Research Center, fully 40 percent of all new marriages include at least one partner who has been previously married. Two in ten are marriages between partners who have both been married before. The study also indicated that nearly 60 percent of all divorced or widowed adults will remarry.

These statistics, it would seem, paint a rather optimistic picture of the American approach to marriage, despite the ever-present possibility of divorce. There are, however, a number of legal issues that may impact a remarriage more significantly than a first marriage. With the help of a qualified family law attorney, you and your spouse should be able to address these concerns and prevent them from becoming bigger problems:

  • End of Alimony: If you are receiving spousal maintenance payments from your ex-spouse, those payments will most likely end when you get remarried. In fact, cohabitation with your fiancé before your marriage could constitute grounds for terminating spousal support.
  • Child Custody and Visitation: There are no explicit provisions in Illinois law about changing custody or visitation arrangements when a parent gets remarried. However, many such considerations are based on the circumstances of the case and how they impact the child’s well-being. Changing circumstances, which are definitely possible with new spouses and stepsiblings, can precipitate modifications to existing orders.
  • Child Support: In most situations, a remarriage alone will not impact child support agreements. The child’s parents remain responsible for the care of the child, regardless of the addition of new spouses. A parent who is required to pay support may see his or her obligation decrease if he or she were to have a child with the new spouse, but the reduction is not often significant.
  • Decisions Regarding Inheritances and Legacy Gifts: If you own property or valued possessions, you will want to decide prior to remarriage what your intentions are regarding them after your death. Will they be left to your children from your first marriage or to your new spouse? A prenuptial agreement can help you put such concerns to rest before you say “I do” again.

As with many legal situations, there may be exceptions to any general rule, so the information presented above should serve merely as a helpful reminder of things to consider and not definitive advice. For more information about the potential implications of remarriage, contact an experienced family law attorney in Geneva. Our team will review your case and help you fully understand the applicable laws as you prepare for the next stage of your life.

communication, coparenting, Kane County Family Law AttorneyCooperative parenting after a divorce, or for parents who were never married, can most certainly be a challenge. Moreover, it is a long-term situation that will not simply “work itself out” without serious effort and a commitment to your child’s best interests. Relationship and parenting experts will point to communication as the most important factor in any coparenting situation, and there is little argument with that perspective. However, most tend to focus on the communication between parents, while, in practice, it is just as vital to communicate effectively with your child as well.

Particular Challenges for Non-Custodial Parents

In most separated-parent family arrangements, one parent—usually the parent with primary physical custody—will spend more time with the child than the other. The other—or non-custodial—parent does not necessarily love his or her child any less; it is just the nature of the situation that limits time together.

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