August 18, 2022
Anderson & Boback
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Illinois changed its statute, which now assigns “parental responsibility” and “parental leave” to parents instead of “custody.” The purpose of these changes was to give parents less fighting. You can win “custody,” but winning “parental responsibility” doesn’t have the same appeal. “Parental Responsibility” refers to the most important decisions related to a child’s education, medical care, religion, and extracurricular activities. All of these responsibilities can be shared between the parents (what we used to call “joint custody”), or they can be split between the parties, or one parent can be given all decisions in all of these areas. Although the intention is to solve these types of cases, many of them end up in court and it is good to be prepared for the upcoming court case.
Here are five (5) tips so you know what to look out for when facing a custody or maternity leave battle.
1. The status quo matters, so be the parent you want to be.
The court is mandated to look back 24 months when determining the status quo regarding parental leave and the allocation of parental responsibilities, and when there are differences of opinion, the status quo often prevails. For example, if the parties have lived separately and apart for a year and mother has seen the children 50% of the time and father 50% of the time and that seems to be working, the court will likely allocate the parenting time 50/50 between the parties in an order. However, if this does not work, the court can reassess the status quo. The same applies to decision-making/allocation of parental responsibility. If mom always planned and attended all doctor’s appointments and that worked, it will probably stay that way. If both parents have always attended parent-teacher conferences, it is likely to remain so. The court is unlikely to give a mother who has never made parenting decisions about her children the sudden right to be the sole parent making parenting decisions. Therefore, it is important to manage your expectations and understand the status quo when there are no serious threats or other issues. If you want half-parenting, do half-parenting, even if you’re not in court yet. If you want to have a say in the choice of extracurricular activities, get involved now. The court doesn’t usually rewrite the family’s history unless there was a serious problem with the way things worked.
2. Keep records and documents.
Keep all records and paperwork so you are prepared if your attorney asks for them.
- If you have concerns about your child’s performance in school and the report cards support the concerns, collect and keep report cards from the past few years.
- If you are concerned about contributing to the costs of the children’s expenses, keep detailed receipts.
- If you think the child’s other parent will try to argue that they will do anything for the minor children, you can keep a journal or log of everything you did that day.
- Attend the doctor’s appointments and keep the summaries after the visit and make a note in your journal or log that you have attended.
- If there are text message conversations, email conversations, or conversations about parenting applications that would support your arguments or concerns, keep them and keep them organized. Document everything.
3. If you have not already done so, do not leave the children’s apartment.
If you still live with your children and their other parent, it may make sense to stay in the same home as your children until your case is closed, provided there is no danger. Courts often keep children in their homes in the event of a dispute. So if a parent moves out, they may not be able to take the children with them, especially when it comes to the school year and school transport of homework, etc. The court does not want the children to have a lot of travel time and tends to keep the children in their own home to keep environment.
When a parent moves out, they only see their children on a set schedule that may not reflect the time they end up wanting to spend with their children. It is best to try to stay with them as long as there is no reason to move, because then both parents will spend the same amount of time with the children in the shared apartment. Now this is not always possible and sometimes it is best for certain family members to relocate, for example in domestic violence situations. However, talk to your lawyer before you move out of the apartment.
4. Prepare your apartment for your children if you have already moved out.
If one parent has already moved out of the children’s home, it is best to prepare your new home for the child/children. This means they have their own private sleeping space. For example, if a father moves into a one-bedroom apartment but has three children, this is not a situation where the children can spend much (if any) overnight consistently because it is simply not feasible. If the father is moving to a place where the children have their own beds and private sleeping space, and that is close to their school, that is a scenario where the court could consider extended overnight parental leave.
Also, try to help your children adjust to your new home. Delight them by taking them shopping for their bedding and linens, storing toys and clothes for them in your house, buying them toiletries for your house. The less they have to “pack” to spend time with you, the more home they will feel in their new apartment.
5. Financially prepare for parenting responsibilities and time struggles.
The division of parental responsibilities and childbirth battles (formerly called “custody battles”) are extremely costly. They often include the appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem or a Child Representative or even a 604.10(b) Custody Evaluator. The court process is lengthy and both financially and emotionally draining. Be prepared to shell out big bucks in attorney and surveyor fees when you embark on this journey, and save and plan accordingly.
Chicago Custody Attorneys
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the topic. In relation to your specific circumstances, you should seek advice from a specialist.
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