233 W. Wilson Street, Batavia, IL, 60510
How Important Is Child Preference When Creating a Parenting Plan?During a divorce, a court rules on the allocation of parental responsibilities by considering what is in the best interest of the child. Listening to the child’s preferences is part of understanding their best interest, but courts will not give a child’s preference the same weight in every case. A parenting plan is an important part of creating a structured living environment for children after their parents have separated. Though the parents and the court want the child to be happy with the arrangement, there are times when adults have a better understanding of what is best for the children.

How Child Preference Is Weighed

Children of divorce may have a preference about which parent they will live with for a majority of the time. However, the issue of child preference does not come up in many parenting cases. Some children are uncomfortable choosing sides or admitting that they have a preference. When they do express a preference, the court may give it little or no credence if:

  • The child is not mature enough to explain why they are choosing one parent
  • The preference is clearly not in the child’s best interest
  • One of the parents appears to be manipulating the child’s opinion

Rather than have the child testify in front of a judge, the court may assign a licensed professional to talk with the child and discern their preference without parental interference.

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The Differences Between the Property Title and Mortgage with Your Marital HomeExcept in rare circumstances, only one of you will continue to own your marital home after your divorce. The most contentious issue surrounding your marital home will be who will keep it or whether you should sell it and divide the proceeds. If one of you is keeping your house, it is important to complete the agreement by legally transferring ownership and financial responsibility to one person. As the person keeping the home, you do not want your former spouse to have ownership rights over the property. As the person who is giving up the home, you do not want to be liable for mortgage payments on a house that you no longer own.

Property Title

The property title for your house is your ownership interest in the house, which can be full or partial. When you co-own a home with your spouse, both of your names are on the title to show that you each have partial ownership of the house. If your spouse agrees to give you full ownership of your marital home, you will assume your spouse’s ownership interest in the title. A deed is a legal document that transfers a property title to a new owner. Quitclaim deeds are the most common deeds used during Illinois divorce because:

  • It is a quick and relatively simple process; and
  • The recipient knows that the grantor owns the property and has the right to transfer it.

If you complete the deed while you are still married, you should be able to avoid a transfer tax because it is a gift between spouses.

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Four Factors When Seeking a Job After DivorceGetting a divorce may mean having to join the workforce for people who were primarily relying on their spouse for income. For other people who already work, they may need a better paying job to support themselves. Spousal maintenance payments can help a lower-earning spouse maintain the lifestyle that they were accustomed to during their marriage. However, courts often grant maintenance on the condition that the recipient must make a good-faith effort to better their financial situation. There are several factors that you must consider when trying to find a job after your divorce:

  1. Your Career Prospects: Did you previously have a job or career? Some people leave their jobs or do not seek employment in order to focus on their home while their spouse focuses on their career. Having prior experience in a job or training in a career will improve your chances of being hired. People with limited experience are often limited to entry-level jobs that do not require specialized skills.
  2. Your Financial Needs: Besides identifying what jobs you qualify for, you need a target income level based on your budget. How much of your basic living expenses would your income pay for? Between your income and your support payments, will all of your expenses be covered? Does the job have opportunities for advancement and increased pay? Your job search may not be in good faith if you turn down one job to take another job that pays less.
  3. Your Family Needs: If you have children, you must consider how your job may affect your ability to fulfill your parental responsibilities. Would your work hours conflict with your parenting time? Even if you find a job with flexible hours, you may need to modify your parenting schedule. If your new job would require you to relocate with your children, you will need a compelling reason why this relocation is in your children’s best interest, such as it being a superior career opportunity that is not available where you are currently living.
  4. Your Education: More career opportunities may be available to you by completing post-secondary education, whether it is updating your existing job skills or learning a new career. This often means going back to school but could involve vocational training programs. Spousal maintenance payments can support you while you are completing your education. You need to show a clear path to obtaining your degree or certification and what career you will pursue.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

You need a strong financial foundation from your divorce to support you while you search for your job. A Batavia, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you determine your budget and what you need from your marital properties and support payments. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-879-9090.

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Going on Vacation as a Divorced ParentSingle parents need to take the opportunity to go on a vacation with their children, even if the idea seems less exciting after a divorce. Divorced parents see their children less often than when they were married because of the division of parenting time. A trip is an opportunity for the parent to bond with the children and create happy memories. When planning a vacation with your children, there are several factors related to your divorce that you should consider.

Parenting Plan

You do not need to limit your vacation so that it fits within your regular parenting schedule but will need to discuss your vacation plans with your co-parent:

  • Your co-parent has a right to know when your children are going to be out of town;
  • Your co-parent must agree to any deviation in your parenting schedule; and
  • You may need your co-parent’s permission to travel with your children, depending on where you are going.

Your co-parent is more likely to cooperate with your vacation plans if you tell them well in advance. If you are asking for a greater-than-normal share of parenting time, you should offer your co-parent additional parenting time on another date. Your co-parent may have a right to block your planned trip if they believe you are taking the children to an unsafe place or otherwise putting them in danger.

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Parentage Not Presumed for Fathers in Same-Sex DivorceThe same divorce laws apply to same-sex spouses in Illinois as they do to any other married couples. There is the same presumption of the equitable distribution of marital properties and allocation of parental responsibilities. The average same-sex divorce may be slightly different from the average heterosexual divorce because the recency of the same-sex marriage law makes it unlikely that they will be divorcing after a long-duration marriage. Divorcing same-sex spouses are more likely to have unique complications with establishing legal parentage of their children, which can impair one of the spouse’s parental rights.

Establishing Parenthood

The Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 defines four ways that someone is legally presumed to be the parent of a child if they did not give birth to the child:

  • The person is married to the mother at the time of birth, excluding surrogacies;
  • The child was born within 300 days after the mother and person were divorced;
  • The person and the mother were married at the time of birth, but the marriage was later ruled invalid; or
  • The mother marries the person after the child’s birth, and the new spouse agrees to be the parent.

The law establishes a clear path to legal parentage as long as the biological mother is one of the spouses. This works for two married women when one of them uses artificial insemination to have a child. However, two married men do not have the same presumptive parenting rights when one of them uses a surrogate in order to be the biological father.

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