233 W. Wilson Street, Batavia, IL, 60510

I Have Just Been Granted Supervised Visitation – What Now?In most divorce and parenting cases, the court wants to keep both parents in the child’s life. What this looks like, exactly, varies from family to family. For parents who both have played an integral role in the child’s upbringing, the court will attempt to split parenting time equitably, though not necessarily equally. Most arrangements will have one parent keep the children throughout the week, with the other parent caring for the kids over the weekend. However, some families do not have healthy enough relationships to have this type of parenting plan. In the instance that a child’s safety is at risk, the court will need to reconsider what these parenting plans will look like. Depending on the details of the situation, the court may grant supervised visitation in order to keep the parent-child relationship alive while protecting the child from potential harm.

Reasons for Supervised Visitation

For parents with a history of neglect and abuse, the court will advocate for the child by not letting them be alone with the parent. Unfortunately, these accusations are not always true — it is not unheard of for one parent to make false claims about the other to restrict their parenting rights. Courts will grant supervised visitation to watch the relationship between the parent and child and assess the child’s safety with the parent. The following are reasons why someone may be subject to supervised visitation with their child:

  • Fear of the parent kidnapping their child from their co-parent
  • Accusations or evidence of physical or emotional abuse
  • A history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Previous inappropriate sexual behavior
  • A mental illness diagnosis
  • Claims that the child feels unsafe when they are alone with the parent
  • Incarceration of the non-custodial parent

How to Handle the Supervision

If you have recently been restricted to supervised visitation with your child, your instinct is likely to fight for you and your child’s rights to be together. While this may seem like an admirable response, it can be taken in the wrong way by the court. The best way to earn your way back into your child’s life, unsupervised, is by respecting the regulations of your current arrangement and working to keep your relationship with your child. It is important that you understand that all of your conversations and interactions with your kids are being recorded throughout your visit — any slip-up can be used against you. It is a good idea to plan activities for your time together since it can be awkward to have a genuine interaction while a third party is present. Having a plan can distract you from the stranger in the room and will also show that you care for your child and your time together. Be sure to monitor your tone and language throughout the visit. You should avoid talking about your former spouse and using crude language. You want to appear to be a good influence for your child, rather than a bitter ex. For your own personal sanity, it may be a good idea to find a friend who you can vent to or even speak with a counselor or other mental health specialist. If you do not take the time to process the arrangement and your feelings about it, you may end up boiling over during your supervised visit.

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Is Filing for Divorce Right for Me?Recognizing that your marriage may be coming to an end can take you months, if not years, to put into words. You have likely felt your relationship deteriorating over time but have not been ready to accept that ending the marriage may be what is best for you and your spouse. Before filing for divorce, many couples will live apart to gauge their feelings towards their spouse and their life together. In fact, Illinois may require you to live separately for six months before you are legally able to divorce if your spouse does not agree to the divorce. With the thought of divorce swirling in your head, you are likely having a number of feelings come over you all at once — remembering the good times you have had together, but feeling unsure if this outweighs your current discontent. Every marriage is different and there is no “right” or “wrong” answer, but divorce experts have recognized a few common signs that may point towards a need for divorce.

Everything Falls on You

Marriage is a partnership that requires patience and an ability to compromise. When arguments come up, do you feel as if the blame is always on you? In many cases, one spouse can feel forced to compromise during every disagreement, and after years of blame, their marriage will feel less like a partnership and more one-sided. If your partner makes you feel as if everything is your fault and fails to listen to your ideas or opinions, your unhappiness is likely stemming from this imbalance and it may be a sign that the relationship is no longer right for you.

You Are Tired of Fighting

It is normal and healthy for couples to argue because two people cannot agree on everything. However, when arguments are a daily occurrence and you are no longer interested in fixing the problem, you have likely detached yourself from the relationship. Couples who are willing to seek out additional support to better themselves and their marriage are actively working on improving their future. Those who are uninterested in putting in the additional effort should reconsider their feelings about their life moving forward.

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What Can You Do If Your Co-Parent Violates Your Parenting Plan?A parenting plan created during a divorce is more than a simple agreement between two parents. It is a legally binding document that outlines how parenting time with the children will be divided and who has the right to make decisions about the children. A parent who ignores the terms of the agreement is violating a contract and could be held legally responsible for their actions. How should you respond to a violation of your parenting plan? Should you immediately take your co-parent to court after they break your agreement? Filing a court order is usually not the first step you should take when dealing with a violation.

How Might Your Co-Parent Violate Your Plan?

The first thing that comes to mind with a parenting plan violation is not following your parenting schedule. Your co-parent may be late in dropping off the children or coming to pick them up, which throws off your schedule. However, they could also violate the agreement by making a decision without consulting you first or not following your agreed-upon rules for raising the children, as long as those rules are explicitly stated in the plan.

Communication First

You should give your co-parent a chance to explain themselves after the first time they break your parenting agreement. There may have been circumstances that were beyond their control or a misunderstanding about the parenting plan. After repeated violations, you need to have a serious conversation about your parenting arrangement. It could be that:

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How to Use Social Media to Tell Others About Your DivorceOne of the many uncomfortable tasks that you have following your decision to divorce is when and how to tell others about it. You need to break the news personally to your children and close family members. Some friends may also deserve to hear the news directly from you. What about the other people you interact with on a regular basis? It could be emotionally tiresome to repeat your divorce conversation with all of your friends and other social acquaintances. Some couples will instead announce their divorce on social media. Before you decide whether a social media announcement would be right for you, you should consider the potential benefits and pitfalls.

Advantages of a Social Media Announcement

The most appealing part of announcing your divorce through social media is that it removes the pressure of having numerous in-person conversations about your divorce. Beyond that, a well-executed social media announcement can help you control your public message about your divorce:

  • You and your spouse should use the same announcement so that your message is consistent.
  • You can set the tone for the message, whether it is somber or more hopeful.
  • You can use filters to determine who is able to see your announcement.
  • You can set clear boundaries for talking about your divorce any further.

Setting the right tone in your announcement can be helpful if you are worried about how people will respond to it. Your friends should follow your lead if you express that you hold no resentment or want to focus more on your roles as parents.

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What to Do If You Cannot Afford to Pay Child SupportNot all cases of a parent failing to pay child support involve “deadbeat” parents who are trying to shirk their financial responsibility. Sometimes, a parent cannot afford the payments due to circumstances that are out of their control, such as:

  • Losing their job
  • Suffering an injury that prevents them from working
  • Being forced to make a major purchase or go into debt because of an emergency

If you find yourself unable to keep up with your child support payments, you need to present the problem in court and see if you can reduce your payments.

What Not to Do

You can be found in contempt of a court order if you do not pay child support, even if you cannot afford the payments. Do not assume that it is okay to miss a payment without saying anything to your co-parent. Regardless of your financial means, you are still knowingly violating your child support order. You should also avoid creating an informal agreement with your co-parent where you reduce your child support payments or defer payment. A family law court will not recognize changes to your child support payments that are made outside of the court-approved order. An informal agreement will likely not protect you if your co-parent files a complaint against you for not paying child support.

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