Most divorces are complex and emotionally and financially draining. This is especially true when a couple has children, as the parties will face a host of additional issues, such as coming up with a parenting time schedule, deciding on child support, and determining whether one party should retain the family home. The outcome of these decisions will have a significant impact on the parties for years to come, making it particularly important for divorcing couples to retain an experienced and compassionate Barrington divorce attorney who can explain their legal options and ensure that their best interests and the best interests of their children are protected.
In 2016, Illinois stopped using the terms ‘custody’ and ‘visitation’ in regards to divorce proceedings. Instead, decision-making authority regarding a child’s education, health, and religion are divided between or shared by the parents. When parents are unable to come up with their own parenting agreement through negotiation, a court will step in and make the decisions on their behalf. While the manner in which these determinations are made depends on the specific circumstances of each case, courts will always be guided primarily by what they believe is in the best interests of the child, which is determined by applying the facts of a case to the following set of factors:
- The wishes of the child, if he or she is deemed to be of sufficient maturity to express a reasoned preference;
- How adjusted the child is to his or her home and school;
- The physical and mental health of both parents and the child;
- Whether the parents are able and willing to cooperate in making childcare-related decisions;
- Each parent’s level of participation in past decision making with regards to the child;
- The distance between the parties’ homes;
- The child’s specific needs;
- The cost and difficulty of transporting the child between residences;
- Each party’s daily schedule;
- Each parent’s willingness to facilitate a close relationship between the child and the other parent; and
- Whether either parent has a history of domestic violence or abuse.
These factors also play a role in how parenting time is divided between two parents, although courts will also consider whether one parent was primarily responsible for caretaking functions in the preceding two years, as well as the unique relationship of the child with each parent and any siblings. Based on this analysis, courts will determine how parenting time with a child should be divided. Some plans may involve equal time sharing, with both parties able to have access to the child during the weekdays and on weekends and holidays, while others might involve one parent having access to a child on one day during the week and certain weekends. In either case, courts will base their plan on the child’s best interests, as well as the parents’ circumstances.
Call Today for Legal Assistance
Even when a couple does not have children, the parties will still be required to deal with a number of complicated issues if they decide to divorce. For help coming up with your own parenting plan or property division agreement, please call 847-705-8000 to speak with a dedicated and experienced Barrington divorce attorney at Andrea Heckman Law today.