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Homewood Family Law AttorneyWhen divorcing or unmarried parents need to address issues related to child custody, they may encounter disagreements about how they will divide parental responsibilities and when children will live with each parent. There are a variety of factors that may play a role in decisions related to the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and one important issue will involve the parents' history of providing care for their children. By understanding how child care that has been and is currently being provided by parents will be addressed during a family law case, parents can take steps to protect their parental rights and make decisions that will provide for their children's best interests.

Understanding the Role of Caretaking Functions in a Child Custody Case

In many cases, family courts will seek to preserve the status quo as much as possible and avoid disrupting children's lives. Parents should be able to maintain positive relationships with their children and continue serving in the roles that they held in the past as they provided care for their children and ensured that children's needs were met.

In Illinois family law cases, the term "parenting time" is used to refer to the periods when children will be in the care of a parent. When determining how parenting time will be allocated between parents, a variety of factors may be considered. One of the most important of these factors involves each parent's level of participation in "caretaking functions." Courts may consider the types of child care activities parents were involved in during the two years prior to when a divorce or child custody case began. This can inform whether a parent will be able to provide for children's needs going forward, and it can ensure that children will continue receiving the care they are accustomed to from their parents.


Joliet Family Law AttorneyThe end of a marriage can be an incredibly stressful time for both parents and children. Despite parents' best efforts, children may feel caught in the middle of a divorce. They may worry that the divorce is their fault, or they may feel like they will have to choose sides between their parents. They may also be concerned about how their lives will change, whether they will be required to move to a new home or change schools, and when they will be able to see and spend time with each parent. Addressing these issues can be difficult for parents, especially when they are focused on resolving legal concerns and making adjustments to their own lives.

If you are a parent who is going through a divorce, you will want to make sure you can help your children get through this process as best as possible while maintaining good relationships with them. Here are a few tips to follow as your family adjusts to the changes in your lives:

Communicate Openly With Your Children

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to be open and honest with your children about your divorce while making sure conversations are age-appropriate and focused on their emotions and needs. You should let them know what is happening and give them expectations about how their lives may change, and you can answer any questions they may have without sharing any inappropriate details. By being honest with your children, making sure they understand that the divorce is not their fault, and letting them know that they are loved by both parents, you can help ease their concerns, and you can continue to maintain positive relationships with them.


Joliet Family Law AttorneyOver the past decade, the number of LGBTQ+ couples who have chosen to get married has increased significantly. However, just like any other couple, an LGBTQ+ couple may face problems in their marriage that could lead to a separation or divorce. While the same laws apply to same-sex couples or other LGBTQ+ partners as in "traditional," opposite-sex marriages, there are a few unique issues that can arise in these situations. Because of this, it may be beneficial for LGBTQ+ couples to consider a prenuptial agreement. By discussing these issues with an attorney who is experienced in LGBTQ+ family law matters, couples can understand their options and the steps they can take to protect themselves.

Understanding Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract made by a couple before their marriage. This agreement will address how certain matters will be handled if the couple chooses to get a divorce in the future. In general, a prenup can make decisions about the distribution of the couple's assets, and it may also address other financial matters, such as the allocation of debts or the payment of spousal support.

Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement

Here are a few reasons why LGBTQ+ couples may want to consider a prenup:


Joliet Family Law AttorneyFor parents who are divorced or separated, sharing custody of children is not always easy. A parent who has been used to making decisions for their children, providing care at all times, and handling child-related issues that arise may struggle to let go during the times that their children are not with them. While a well-crafted parenting plan can alleviate some of these issues by establishing rules and boundaries and detailing how certain parenting issues will be handled by both parents, some concerns may still arise about whether children are being properly cared for.

One issue that parents may encounter may be related to the use of babysitters or other childcare options. If a parent learns that their children are regularly being left in the care of a babysitter or being sent to the home of grandparents or other extended family members, they may feel that the other parent is not living up to their responsibilities to provide the necessary care and supervision for the couple's children. To address this issue and ensure that children can be in the care of a parent whenever possible, parents may seek to implement the right of first refusal in their parenting plan.

What Is the Right of First Refusal?

Generally, the right of first refusal refers to provisions in which a parent will be offered the opportunity to care for children when the other parent will not be available. That is, if children are scheduled to have parenting time with a parent, and that parent cannot provide care during this time, the right of first refusal will require them to contact the other parent and see if they are available to care for the children before planning to have a babysitter or family member watch the children. Essentially, the other parent must first be given the opportunity to refuse to provide care before any other arrangements may be made.


Orland Park Family Law AttorneyOriginally published: October 15, 2020 -- Updated: May 11, 2023

Update: As mentioned below, it may be necessary to establish paternity for a child even if a parent has died. By following the proper procedures to recognize that a person is the child's biological father, the child will be able to receive an inheritance from their father, which can provide them with substantial financial benefits both immediately and in the future. However, there are a number of other benefits of establishing paternity, including:

  • Social Security benefits - Children who are under the age of 18 and unmarried can receive Social Security benefits through a deceased parent. If the parent was retired or received disability benefits, the child will generally be able to receive 50 percent of the benefits the parent was being paid before their death. If the parent had worked a sufficient amount of time and paid Social Security taxes, the child will generally be able to receive 75 percent of the basic Social Security benefit the parent would have been entitled to.

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