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Kane County family law attorneysWhenever a divorce case goes to litigation, the involved parties give up a great deal of control regarding the situation. While a deal could possibly be brokered by the court, contentiousness and acrimony are more likely to develop. In addition, court dates are often set months out in advance, with very little happening in between. Thus, what could have been a relatively simple divorce has deteriorated into a long, drawn-out process causing serious levels of stress and bitterness. For many couples, however, mediation may provide a much more reasonable avenue for reaching a divorce agreement, allowing them to move at their own pace and addressing the issues that matter most.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that involves at least two parties and a neutral, third-party facilitator. The parties and the facilitator, known as a mediator, engage in negotiation-oriented discussions aimed at developing a resolution that is agreeable for everyone involved. Mediation is used in a wide variety of legal applications and is very often a part of divorce and family law proceedings. Parties to a mediated divorce may choose to retain their own attorneys, depending on the complexity of the case. The best mediators are also attorneys, allowing them to much better be able to address some of the legal issues that may arise during the process.

Flexible Scheduling

In addition to the cooperative nature of mediation, the method is also very attractive for many couples due to its inherent flexibility. The restrictive scheduling of court dockets often requires both parties to take off work, make childcare arrangements, and spend weeks waiting for the opportunity to be heard. Most mediators, on the other hand, make themselves much more available to meet the needs of a particular couple. Many offer evening or weekend sessions to allow for faster progress and, ultimately, more efficient resolution.

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Kane County family law attorneysFollowing a divorce or break-up, parents go their separate ways, often creating vastly different lifestyles from one another. In most cases, however, each parent still has the right to at least some parenting time with the child, if not significant parenting time through a shared parenting arrangement. For some parents, however, the difference in lifestyles can be particularly troubling, especially if there are concerns that the child is being negatively affected. If you have been questioning the appropriateness of the other parent’s behavior, it is important to know what you can and cannot do about it, and a family lawyer can help.

Your Opinion Might Not Really Matter

Unless otherwise stated in your parental allocation judgment or parenting agreement, how you feel about the other parent’s actions has little bearing on the situation. There are some exceptions, but those will be addressed in a moment. Even if you have been granted full authority for important decision-making in regard to your child, as long as the other parent has not been deemed unfit, he or she is permitted to parent as he or she desires. His or her time with the child is not under your control, and you do not have the authority to tell them what to do or how to do it.

But…

The safety of your child must always remain the top priority for both you and the other parent. By law, parenting time may be restricted if the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health is seriously endangered. However, that is not a determination you are permitted to make entirely on your own. Instead, you must take your concerns to the court and request that restrictions be placed on other parent’s time with your child. Only in the most extreme cases will his or her rights to the child be completely terminated.

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Kane County family law attorneyThe decision to award spousal maintenance following a divorce is one that must be considered very carefully by the court. Sometimes called alimony or spousal support, maintenance is used to lessen the financial impact of the dissolution, and to provide a measure of security for the future. The law in Illinois—and therefore the courts—presume that, if you are awarded maintenance, it should only continue as long as the need for it still exists.

Terminating Factors

When you are receiving spousal support, you probably have some idea of how long the order is scheduled to remain in effect. It may be intended to last a number of years, or indefinitely if you were married for a long time. However, what you may not realize is that the applicable law in Illinois includes provisions that allow maintenance to be terminated early. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, an order for maintenance may be terminated upon the death of either party, which, of course, is reasonable enough. It also specifies that your support may be ended if you get remarried. Finally, it permits the termination of your maintenance if you cohabit “with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.”

Not Just Roommates

So the real issue then becomes what exactly “resident, continuing conjugal basis means.” Does is simply mean you spend several nights a week with a new romantic partner? What about moving in with a roommate? While the actual law itself does not provide a great deal of clarification, case law around the state has set a precedent for terminating maintenance because of cohabitation.

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Kane County family law attorneysIf you and your spouse are having serious problems in your marriage, one of you may decide to find another place to stay while you figure out what to do next. You might, for example, stay with a family member so that you can gather your thoughts about how to proceed. This practice is so commonplace that many couples would not even consider a divorce while still sharing a home.

Just because something is a common practice, however, does not mean that it is a legal requirement. In fact, it may come as surprise to learn that Illinois law does not require any period of physical separation in most divorce cases.

Knowing the Law

Prior to 2016, a couple seeking a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences—colloquially known as a “no-fault divorce”—was required to live separate and apart for two years before the divorce could be finalized. By agreement of the parties, the separation period could be lessened to six months. While Illinois courts found that “living separate and apart” could theoretically occur under the same roof, most cases saw one spouse or the other move out the marital home for at least half a year prior to the divorce being finalized.

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Kane County parenting plan attorneysIf you are a parent who is considering divorce or have already decided to end your marriage, you probably worry about how the divorce will affect your children. If you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse wish to share parenting responsibilities regarding your children, you will be required to formulate a parenting agreement. This parenting agreement must contain certain provisions, including schedules for parenting time and a determination of who will make major decisions about the child’s upbringing.

A parenting agreement can be an extremely effective tool for making sure that you and your child’s other parent are on the same page regarding parental responsibilities. A thorough parenting agreement can address co-parenting issues now and help prevent misunderstandings and conflict in the future.

What Must Be Included in an Illinois Parenting Plan?

After filing a divorce petition or parentage action, parents have 120 days to file a temporary parenting plan. Eventually, parents will need to agree on how parental responsibilities and parenting time are shared in a permanent parenting plan. Parents who cannot agree on these issues will likely be sent to mediation. The provisions required in an Illinois parenting agreement include but are not limited to:

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Wheaton, IL 60189
630-549-0960
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We serve clients throughout Kane County, Illinois including St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Elgin, Algonquin, Aurora, Barrington Hills, Bartlett, Big Rock, Burlington, Campton Hills, Carpentersville, East Dundee, Elburn, Hampshire, Huntley, Kaneville, Maple Park, Sleepy Hollow, Wayne, West Dundee as well as throughout DuPage County.

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