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chicago child custody lawyerDuring divorce, legal separation, or the establishment of a first-time custody arrangement for non-married parents, there can be a number of legal requirements that might seem overwhelming at first. Creating a plan for child custody, which is divided into “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in Illinois, can seem like an insurmountable amount of work. An experienced family law attorney can walk you through the process step-by-step. 

In our last blog, we discussed a broad overview of what a parenting plan needs to contain to get approved by an Illinois family law judge. Today, we will look at a specific element of a parenting plan that many parents utilize to help them maximize their time with each child: The right of first refusal. 

Using the Right of First Refusal to Your Advantage

The right of first refusal is a clause that describes when parents are obligated to give each other the first opportunity to provide supplementary childcare. Parents will need to agree on how long they must be gone before giving each other the chance to take the kids. 


chicago child custody lawyerWhen parents of minor children get divorced in Illinois, they need to submit something called a “parenting plan” to a judge for approval. In the best-case scenario, parents will have already created a parenting plan together and can simply submit it to the court as part of an uncontested divorce. When this is not possible, however, parents can still work together using the help of a mediator or collaborative divorce team to negotiate a parenting plan. If absolutely necessary, a judge can intervene and make custody decisions on behalf of a couple who cannot negotiate the terms of their parenting plan themselves. However you eventually get to your final parenting plan, it is important to understand what it is and what it needs to address. 

What is a Parenting Plan? 

Parenting plans, otherwise known as child custody agreements, are legally binding agreements that detail exactly how a divorced couple will manage their underage children. Once a parenting plan has been approved by a judge and entered as part of a divorce decree or divorce order modification, parents must follow the parenting plan or face legal consequences. 

A parenting plan will address the two major parts of child custody in Illinois: The allocation of parental responsibilities, which is the right to make important decisions on behalf of a child, and parenting time, which is the right to spend time with a child.


When Do Alimony Payments End in Illinois?

Posted on in Divorce

chicago divorce lawyerRegardless of whether a spouse is paying or receiving alimony (technically known as “spousal maintenance” in Illinois), each party will want to know when, and under what circumstances, alimony payments might end. While more women in the workforce and greater equity between spouses means alimony is awarded less often today than it has been in the past, alimony can still be a crucial support or a major financial burden, depending on your perspective. Both men and women can be recipients of spousal maintenance if the circumstances merit it.

Illinois has laws specifically addressing when alimony can be changed or terminated; read this blog for a brief overview of these circumstances and then contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney for help with your case. 

When Can Alimony Be Modified? 

As the name suggests, spousal maintenance is intended to help one spouse get on his or her feet financially once a marriage has ended. Depending on the original divorce decree and each spouse’s circumstances, including whether there are still very young children at home preventing the receiving spouse from getting back into the workforce or obtaining an education, spousal maintenance might be:


chicago child support lawyerWhile Illinois parents who have gotten divorced are usually relieved to be rid of each other in their day-to-day lives, the conflict and differences of opinion that existed in the marriage can be resurrected over and over again when minor children are involved. Child support is frequently a cause of disagreement between divorced or never-married parents, and one of the most common concerns we hear is that the parent paying child support believes the other parent is using the money for him or herself rather than the child. If you are in this situation, this blog may be helpful to you. 

Can My Ex Spend Child Support However They Want? 

Although it may frustrate the paying parent to no end, Illinois law has no specific limitations regarding how child support may be used. As long as the child’s needs are being met, the receiving parent can spend child support freely on clothes, vacations, or outings with friends on the weekend. 

But when a child is being neglected or abused because of a parent’s frivolous or selfish spending habits, that is illegal. Both parents are responsible for making sure a child has the clothes, food, medical care, and school supplies that they need. If your child is regularly coming to see you during parenting time and he does not have clean clothes in good repair, is malnourished, or has not been treated for urgent medical conditions, you may rightfully be alarmed. 


chicago divorce lawyerOften, the first thing that comes to a parent’s mind when faced with the prospect of an Illinois divorce is what the custody arrangements will look like. Unfortunately, child custody tends to be one of the most contentious aspects of divorce, making it difficult to achieve a parenting plan that everyone can feel good about. In this blog, we want to answer some common questions about how the custody process works in Illinois. Keep in mind that this is not legal advice and that the best place to get your questions answered is in a consultation with an Illinois divorce attorney. 

Does a Mother Automatically Get Custody in Illinois? 

The first thing to understand about child custody in Illinois is that it is divided into two areas: Parental responsibilities, which is the authority to make important decisions on behalf of a child, and parenting time, which is the right to spend time with a child. Neither parent has an automatic right to all parental responsibilities and parenting time; instead, every case begins with the presumption that a child benefits most when both parents are involved in her life. Based on the parents’ preferences, schedules, and the best interests of the child, adjustments are made so a parenting plan can be created. 

Do Illinois Courts Decide Custody Cases? 

The vast majority of Illinois divorces are settled outside of court. If a couple cannot create a satisfactory negotiation on all issues in divorce (not just child custody, but property division, alimony, and child support as well), a judge may order the couple to seek mediation. If mediation fails, a court can help decide any issues that were not resolved by a couple. 

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