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IL family lawyerWhen addressing issues related to child custody, parents will need to consider multiple different factors. While matters related to children will be a key consideration for parents who are going through a divorce, unmarried couples may also need to determine how they will handle child-related issues in the event of a breakup or any other situation where a child’s parents are not living together as partners. Decisions involving child custody will be set down in a legally-binding document known as a parenting plan or parenting agreement. While much of the focus of a parenting plan will be on how parents will divide parental responsibilities (legal custody) and parenting time (physical custody or visitation), the agreement may also address a variety of other related issues. One important issue that parents may want to include in their parenting plan is the right of first refusal.

Understanding the Right of First Refusal

When parents divorce or separate, they will need to make adjustments to the ways they care for their children. While a parent may have become used to being there to address their children’s needs on a daily basis, they may no longer be able to do so, since the children will be staying with the other parent at least some of the time. However, there may be some cases when a parent may be concerned about who will care for their children if the other parent is unavailable.

In many cases, a person may believe that it would be best for their children to be able to stay with a parent whenever possible rather than being left with a babysitter or sent to the home of another family member. To ensure that parents will be able to provide care whenever it is needed, a couple may include the right of first refusal in their parenting plan. While the right of first refusal is not required by law in Illinois, it may be included if the parents agree on these terms, or either party may ask the judge in their case to grant them the right of first refusal because they believe it is necessary to protect their children’s best interests.

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IL family lawyerIssues related to children can be difficult to resolve in family law cases, including situations where married couples choose to get a divorce or where unmarried parents will be ending their relationship. Child custody cases will typically address two separate issues. While the allocation of parental responsibilities (sometimes referred to as “legal custody”) covers parents’ rights to make decisions about how their children will be raised, parenting time (also known as “physical custody”) will address where children will live and whether they will spend most of their time with one parent while having visitation time with the other parent. When creating a parenting plan or joint parenting agreement, parents will need to make sure to consider a number of issues that will help them avoid confusion, protect their parental rights, and provide for their children’s best interests.

Considerations for Parenting Time in a Parenting Plan

A divorce decree or child custody order will include a parenting plan that fully details the decisions made about a couple’s children. This plan will include a schedule stating when children will live or spend time with each parent. There are a variety of different ways that parenting time may be divided, but there is no “standard” schedule defined by law. When negotiating a parenting plan, parents are free to create schedules that they believe will be appropriate, allowing them to provide for their children’s ongoing needs while ensuring that the children will maintain close relationships with both parents.

In addition to creating parenting time schedules that will be followed on a daily basis, a parenting plan will also need to address other issues related to parenting time, including:

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IL divorce lawyerGetting a divorce will involve a variety of complex financial issues. During the property division process, a couple will need to evaluate all of their assets and debts and determine how they will be allocated between the spouses. While the physical items a couple owns will be a big part of this process, ownership of financial assets will also need to be addressed. In recent years, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have become an issue that is more and more common in divorce cases, and spouses who own these types of assets will need to understand the role that they may play as they divide their marital property.

Cryptocurrency and Hidden Assets

While married couples are required to fully disclose all of the assets they own during the divorce process, there are many cases where spouses attempt to hide certain assets so that they will not have to share them. Cryptocurrency is becoming an increasingly common method of hiding assets. Transactions involving virtual currencies can be difficult to track since they are completed using private online accounts. Because of this, a person may attempt to convert money or other assets into cryptocurrency and transfer ownership of these assets to other parties or to foreign accounts in hopes that their spouse will not be aware of what they are doing.

A person who believes that their spouse may have attempted to use cryptocurrency to hide assets may look in a number of places to uncover these issues. Reviewing bank statements and tax returns may help a person determine whether money has been transferred to online accounts. However, because these transactions can be complicated, it may be necessary to enlist the services of a forensic accountant who can scour online blockchain records to uncover illicit transfers and any other attempts to hide assets.

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IL family lawyerAs American and global culture has changed in recent years, more and more people are recognizing that families come in many different forms. In many cases, same-sex, transgender, and non-binary parents play the same role as those in “traditional” opposite-sex couples, including working together to raise children. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized marriage equality, LGBTQ couples have the right to be legally married, and they also have the right to terminate a marriage through divorce. However, if a couple has children, they may encounter some unique concerns as they address issues related to child custody, and in these cases, a parent may need to work with an attorney to make sure their parental rights will be protected.

Legal Parentage in LGBTQ Families

For some couples, the question of paternity may come into play during legal proceedings that address child custody. If one partner is a child’s biological parent, the other partner may be concerned about whether they are also considered the child’s legal parent. According to Illinois’ paternity laws, if a person gives birth to a child, that person’s spouse will be presumed to be the child’s legal parent. This is true regardless of the gender of the biological parent’s spouse. A person who was formerly married to the biological parent may also be presumed to be the child’s parent if the couple’s marriage ended within 300 days before the child was born.

LGBTQ couples have multiple other options for becoming parents, including surrogacy and adoption. A surrogacy agreement between a child’s intended parents and the child’s biological mother will usually supersede paternity laws, and the surrogate mother (and, in some cases, the other biological parent) will not be considered the child’s legal parent in these cases. When LGBTQ parents adopt a child, either as part of a surrogacy agreement or through another arrangement, they will become the child’s legal parents, ensuring that they will have the right to share child custody in the case of a divorce or the end of an unmarried partnership.

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IL family lawyerIn cases where married parents get divorced or an unmarried couple with children is no longer together, child support is often necessary to ensure that the couple’s children will have the necessary financial resources. Determining how to calculate child support can sometimes be a complex process, and if either parent has children from another relationship, the parents may be unsure about how this will factor into the calculations. By understanding how Illinois law addresses these situations, parents can make sure child support orders will provide for their children’s needs while ensuring that they will be able to support themselves.

Child Support and Multi-Family Adjustments

Since 2017, Illinois has used what is known as an “income shares” method to calculate child support obligations. Under this method, the income earned by both parents is added together, and a “basic child support obligation” is determined based on their combined income and the number of children they share. The basic obligation is then divided between the parents based on each parent’s “percentage share” of their combined income. That is, if one parent earns 65 of the combined income, they will be responsible for 65 percent of the basic child support obligation. The parent who does not have primary physical custody of the couple’s children will typically pay their portion of the child support obligation to the parent who has the majority of the parenting time.

If either parent has children from a previous relationship, a “multi-family adjustment” will be made to their income prior to calculating the basic child support obligation, and the amount of child support they pay for other children will be deducted from their income. This amount may vary based on whether they have an existing child support order. If there is a current child support order in place, the multi-family adjustment will be the amount that is actually paid under this order. If there is no child support order in place, the multi-family adjustment will be the amount of child support that a person actually pays or 75 percent of what they would be required to pay if their child support obligations were calculated under the current guidelines in Illinois law. In some cases, a family court judge may choose not to perform a multi-family adjustment if they find that this would cause financial hardship for the child.

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