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Do Not Forget About the Right of First Refusal During Parenting Time NegotiationsCo-parenting is not easy. Balancing the responsibilities of taking care of children between you and your co-parent is challenging even for couples who are together. When you become a single parent, balancing these responsibilities become more difficult to manage. Many divorcing parents often worry about the fact that they will most likely have to split their parenting time with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse. It is hard for many parents to cope with the fact that they may not see their children every day anymore or be there for every one of their child’s milestones or achievements. One small solace that can be awarded to divorcing parents is what is known as the right of first refusal.

What is the Right of First Refusal?

Illinois courts strongly encourage parents to come to their own agreement on child-related issues such as parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. If the parents cannot come to an agreement, then the court will step in to allocate parenting time and decision-making responsibilities in the child’s best interest. If the court must step in, it may award either parent the right of first refusal, which is a clause in the parenting plan that states that the other parent must be the first person to be offered the right to care for the child if the parent cannot watch the child during his or her designated parenting time. The parent must ask the other parent if they are able to or would like to care for the child before they seek alternative options for childcare.

Right of First Refusal Agreements

The court is not the only one who can create a right of first refusal agreement. If the parents agree to come up with a parenting plan on their own, they are permitted to include information about the right of first refusal if they please. Clauses about the right of first refusal should include:

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How Shared Parenting Time Can Benefit the Children After an Illinois DivorceEvery parent wants what is best for their child. Some parents may think the best thing for their child is for them to spend all or a vast majority of their time with them and not their other parent. While this can be true in some cases, the majority of divorce cases will end with both parents having shared and fairly distributed parenting time.

When making decisions about child-centered issues such as parenting time, the judge will decide based on what is in the child’s best interest. This is why Illinois courts assume that a shared parenting time agreement is in the child’s best interest unless there are reasons that would point to otherwise. Studies have shown that children do their best when their parents each have at least 35 percent of the parenting time. Here are a few ways your child can benefit from a shared parenting time schedule:

  1. The Child Gets to Have a Relationship With Both Parents: When the parents split up and no longer live together, children often fear that they will not be able to have the same type of relationship with the parent who moved out. This creates unnecessary stress for the child that could lead to other issues. With shared parenting situations, the child gets to foster a relationship with both of his or her parents, which is important for healthy development.
  2. The Quality of the Parent-Child Relationships Is Better: A shared parenting agreement also helps to ensure that the relationships between the child and each parent are good relationships. With sole parenting arrangements, the parent who moves out often feels distanced from the child and vice versa. The parent who is now acting as the single parent for the majority of the time can begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed by being responsible for all of the caretaking duties. These feelings can cause strain on the parent-child relationships and can cause stress in the family.

Create a Parenting Time Agreement With a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Perhaps one of the biggest decisions you will have to make during your divorce is how you will care for your children. While a sole parenting time agreement is not out of the question, it may not be what is best for your child. At The Foray Firm, we understand that the decisions that are made about your children are not made lightly. Let our compassionate and skilled Plainfield, IL, parenting time lawyers work with you to develop a parenting time agreement that will benefit both you and your child. Call our office today at 312-702-1293 to set up a consultation.

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Dealing With Custody Evaluations in an Illinois DivorceAs times have changed, so have laws concerning divorce and child custody, which Illinois now calls the allocation of parental responsibilities. Rather than just assuming the mother is the obvious caretaker for the children in a marriage, the state of Illinois believes that children will thrive and do their best when both of their parents have an active parenting role in their lives. Because of this, it is assumed that it is in the child’s best interest to spend time with both parents unless there are other reasons why a shared parenting time arrangement would not be in the child’s best interest. If the court has reason to suspect that such a restriction on parenting time may be warranted, they can order a professional evaluation of the situation to be completed.

Basics of a Professional Evaluation

If a professional evaluation is ordered by the court, often, a mental health professional will be hired. These professionals may be psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists or counselors trained in family disputes. Depending on the information the court is looking for, the evaluation can be focused on the parents, the child or a combination of the parties. 

The evaluator’s job is to observe and gain an understanding of the relationships and interaction between the two parents, the child and any other family members, such as siblings. The evaluator will likely use multiple methods to conduct his or her study, which can include:

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Creating a Solid Illinois Parenting PlanDivorces can be tough on everyone in the family. For children, a divorce can be especially stressful. Many parents worry about their children when they decide to get a divorce, but children are unique. They may not initially react well to the change, but children are adaptable and will get used to their new living situation quickly. One of the best things you can do to help your child transition easily is making sure there is a sound parenting plan in place before you finalize your divorce.

What is a Parenting Plan?

In Illinois, all couples who have children and are filing for divorce must create a parenting plan before the divorce can be finalized. A parenting plan is a written agreement that outlines most things pertaining to the children of the marriage, including allocated parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities.

Elements of a Parenting Plan 

Illinois courts urge couples to try to come up with a parenting plan between the two of them before any intervention happens. If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, they will be sent to mediation. If mediation still does not produce a parenting plan, then the judge will make decisions about the children that will go into the parenting plan. 

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