How Will the New “Equal Parenting Time” Bill Affect Your Family?

Feb 09

On January 29, 2019, Illinois House Bill 0185, or the “Equal Parenting Time” Bill was assigned to the Illinois Judiciary-Civil Committee as part of a process which may incorporate the new bill into the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Currently, assignment of parenting time between each parent and minor child is governed under Section 602.7 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/602.7). Section 602.7 provides that a court, “shall allocate parenting time according to the child’s best interests.” Under the current law, the only presumption that a Judge is required to consider is the presumption that each parent is a fit parent.

Under the current statute, unless both parents present an agreed parenting plan in writing for the Court’s approval, the Court shall allocate parenting time based on the child’s best interests, and shall consider the following 17 factors, without limitation:

  1. The wishes of each parent seeking parenting time;
  2. The wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to parenting time;
  3. The amount of time each parent spent performing caretaking functions with respect to the child in the 24 months preceding the filing of any petition for allocation of parental responsibilities or, if the child is under 2 years of age, since the child’s birth;
  4. Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to caretaking functions with respect to the child;
  5. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings and with any other person who my significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  6. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  7. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  8. The child’s needs;
  9. The distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
  10. Whether the restriction of parenting time is appropriate;
  11. The physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  12. The willingness and ability of each parent to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs;
  13. The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
  14. The occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  15. Whether one of the parents is a convicted sex offender or lives with a convicted sex offender and, if so, the exact nature of the offense and what if any treatment the offender has successfully participated in; the parties are entitled to a hearing on the issues raised in this paragraph (15);
  16. The terms of parent’s military family-care plan that a parent must complete before deployment if a parent is a member of the United States Armed Forces who is being deployed; and
  17. Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant.

The new House Bill 0185 proposes a change to Section 602.7 to state that, “There is a rebuttable presumption that it is in the child’s best interests to award equal time to each parent.” This language adds a rebuttable presumption that parenting time should start with a 50-50 schedule, and places an additional burden on either party to demonstrate why it is in the best interests of the children that a court award less than 50-50 parenting time with each parent.

In addition, not only does this rebuttable presumption take away some of a Judge’s discretion in evaluating the 17 factors outlined in Section 602.7 in deciding what parenting time would be in a child’s best interests, this presumption will also directly impact the amount of child support that one parent may pay another.

In 2016, Illinois introduced an “income shares statute” for calculating a child support obligation. As part of this income shares calculation, the  number of overnights a parent owing child support exercised with a minor child directly impacted the amount of the child support obligation. Under the income shares calculation, a child support obligation would be significantly reduced once the parent that owed a duty of child support exercised 146 or more overnights with the minor

By establishing a “rebuttable presumption” that it is in a child’s best interest to award equal parenting time to each parent, House Bill 0185 will not only affect each parent’s parenting time, but will also directly impact the amount of child support that is being paid and received.

Who Pays for College When Mom Remarries?

Jul 26

Who pays for college when mom remarries?

Many divorces are settled with the understanding that each parent’s contribution to the payment of the minor children’s college education expenses will be determined at the time each child is ready to attend college. More often than not, trial courts have expressed the opinion that college education expenses should be based upon the annual cost for tuition, room, board, books, transportation to and from school, registration fees, medical expenses and living expenses, using the average annual costs for a state school, such as the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, or Northern Illinois University. So who pays for college?

paying for collegeThe financial contribution to a minor child’s education expenses by the non-custodial parent has become more complicated when either mother or father has remarried.

One of the factors a court is required to consider in determining the financial contribution to college education expenses is the financial resources available to both parents. When mom or dad remarries, and files a joint tax return with his or her new spouse, the new spouse resents being dragged into the dispute, and often times objects to supplying joint tax returns based upon privacy issues. For years, the case law in Illinois has favored the proposition that income from the new spouse is irrelevant for purposes of determining contribution to college education expenses, and therefore joint tax returns often times did not have to be produced.

The current case law shows that Illinois courts have begun to change their interpretation of Illinois law. In a recent case called, In Re the Marriage of Linda Street and Daniel Street, the Illinois Appellate Court wrote that, “the traditional rule had been that the financial assets of the current spouse are not relevant in making a support determination…; however, there is clearly a current trend in the case law moving away from the traditional rule of law on this issue.” The current trend which Illinois courts have been following more often is that the financial resources of mom and dad for purposes of determining each parent’s contribution to the college education expenses of their minor child or children also requires the court to take into account the income of that parent’s current spouse. Accordingly, if dad is the noncustodial parent earning $150,000.00 per year and marries his new spouse who is also earning $150,000.00, both incomes are to be considered by the court when it makes its determination as to how much money dad should contribute to the college education expenses for his minor child or children. This new trend in the case law is based upon the fact that both parties realistically pool their resources with those of their second spouses, resulting in their assets and liabilities being substantially intertwined. It is for this reason that the income of the new spouse is discoverable and reviewable by the court when determining each parent’s contribution to college education expenses. A final point which may offer solace to the new spouse is that the new spouse is not obligated to pay for his step-child’s education, but to the extent that the new spouse contributes to the expenses which would otherwise be paid by the parent, the new spouse’s income and assets are relevant.

In summary, be advised that once a parent with college age children remarries and seeks contribution to college education expenses, then the income and assets of her new spouse and her former husband’s new spouse are relevant in helping the court determine each parent’s contribution to the children’s college education expenses.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. today!

Is Allocation of Parental Responsibilities All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Jul 26

Is allocation of parental responsibilities all it’s cracked up to be?

Approximately 20 years ago, on January 1, 1986, the Illinois Legislature enacted a new law allowing divorcing parents to share allocation of parental responsibilities of their children after a divorce. The purpose of this law was to allow both parents to attempt to maintain a close relationship with their children, despite the fact that one parent was moving out of the house. The allocation of parental responsibilities law was intended to work for parents engaged in an amicable divorce. (Is there such a thing?).

broken heart next to childThe allocation of parental responsibilities law stated that parents could sign a joint parenting agreement specifying each parent’s powers, rights and responsibilities for the personal care of their children. This joint parenting agreement would state that both parents are to participate in decision making regarding their minor children’s educational upbringing, choice of doctors and dentists, religious training, and of course, enrollment in extracurricular social activities and school activities.

The allocation of parental responsibilities law ordered parents to “be flexible in arriving at resolutions” for the benefit of the minor children. Allocation of parental responsibilities was only supposed to be ordered by the court in cases in which the parents exhibited “an ability to cooperate with one another” concerning decisions regarding the minor children.

In many respects, the allocation of parental responsibilities law has created as many problems as it sought to cure. Parents who figured to lose a custody battle in court have, on so many occasions, held the parent who in all likelihood, should become the primary custodial parent hostage by refusing to sign off on a divorce agreement unless the primary custodial parent agreed to “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Since taking a divorce case all the way to trial is a financial hardship (and in some cases, a financial impossibility), parents who should become primary custodial parents of their children have often times capitulated to their spouses unyielding demand of allocation of parental responsibilities.

Once allocation of parental responsibilities has been established, the primary custodial parent (often times the mother) is then ordered under the terms of the joint parenting agreement to consult with her ex-spouse for most every important decision in her minor child’s life. For example, if the children come home from school one day and tell mom they want to play soccer, or baseball, or basketball, or ballet, or join the band, or participate in a play, or join a social club, a typical joint parenting agreement would require the mother to discuss this decision with her ex-spouse before the okay can be given. The problem is that there are sometimes hundreds of decisions to be made each year for each one of your minor children, and if your ex-spouse seeks “revenge” for the divorce, or simply wishes to make his ex-spouse’s life miserable, he can demand mediation and court appearances each time another decision for the minor child or children needs to be made. This is just one example of how the allocation of parental responsibilities law from January 1, 1986 can be used as “a sword” rather than as a way of allowing the non-custodial parent to participate in the daily upbringing of his minor children.

One final point of clarification is that each parent’s parenting time with the minor children is unrelated to the allocation of parental responsibilities law. For example, a father demanding allocation of parental responsibilities of his minor children with his soon to be ex-spouse may only arrange for parenting time on two weekends per month; however, a father willing to relinquish allocation of parental responsibilities of his minor children to the mother can still negotiate and achieve a parenting time schedule allowing him to see the minor children during the weekdays, and on all weekends. The issues of parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities are unrelated.

In summary, the use of this allocation of parental responsibilities law continues, so before you agree to allocation of parental responsibilities with your divorcing spouse, be certain to have a detailed discussion with your attorney on the pros and cons of entering into a joint parenting arrangement.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. today!

Does Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Mean Equal Parenting Time?

Jul 26

Does allocation of parental responsibilities mean equal parenting time?

parenting timeOften times parents going through a divorce are unable to distinguish between allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Provisions in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which govern the issues of allocation of parental responsibilities are separate and distinct from provisions in the Act which govern parenting time.

Assume with me for a minute that Fred and Wilma, of the town of Bedrock, have come across “rocky times,” and no longer wish to remain married. Fred and Wilma have one child together, whose name just so happens to be Pebbles. Wilma has been a homemaker throughout the marriage, and has also been Pebbles’ primary caretaker; however, Fred has been a devoted father deeply involved in all aspects of Pebbles’ life from changing her diapers, to going to “rock concerts,” to attending Pebbles’ school functions.

Fred says upon entry of the divorce decree, he would like to have allocation of parental responsibilities of Pebbles, so that he may have “equal parenting time.” Wilma, on the other hand, says she cannot communicate effectively with Fred anymore, and often times disagrees with him on many issues, such as the choice of Pebbles’ doctors, the Church or Synagogue he wishes to attend with Pebbles, the schools Pebbles will be attending, and her social activities.

Fred’s attorney would be wise to explain to Fred that Section 602.1(d) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifically states that, “allocation of parental responsibilities does not necessarily mean equal parenting time.” In this case, allocation of parental responsibilities would not be a viable option, because an award of allocation of parental responsibilities requires the parties to enter into a joint parenting agreement. A joint parenting agreement requires both parties to discuss all major issues concerning the minor child, such as her educational upbringing, the medical doctors the child will see, the Church or Synagogue the child will attend, as well as the child’s after school social activities. allocation of parental responsibilities also requires parents to meet with a mediator if they disagree on any of these decisions. Since Wilma has been the primary caretaker for Pebbles, and because Fred and Wilma do not agree on many issues involving Pebbles, it is likely that Wilma will end up with allocation of parental responsibilities; however, Fred should not be discouraged, because based upon the involvement he has exhibited throughout Pebbles’ life, Fred will be entitled to a liberal parenting time schedule, regardless of the fact that Wilma may end up with allocation of parental responsibilities. Based upon Fred’s prior involvement in Pebbles’ life, it is reasonable to expect that he will have parenting time with Pebbles every week, including no less often than alternating weekends, dinners with Pebbles in the evening once or twice each week, permission to attend all of Pebbles’ after school social activities, alternating all major holidays for parenting time, receiving one week of Christmas vacation, and up to one-half of the entire Summer as Fred’s parenting time schedule.

In summary, in the unfortunate event of a divorce between two loving parents who are devoted to their child or children, both parents should be certain to distinguish between the contentious issue of allocation of parental responsibilities, and the separate and distinct issue of parenting time.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. today!

Dissipation in Divorce Proceedings

Jul 25

Dissipation in divorce proceedings

The issue of whether or not dissipation has occurred in a divorce case continues to remain at the forefront of many property disputes. As recently as December, 2000, the very well respected Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court wrestled with the issue of Dissipation in the Carter case.

woman and man cartoon fighting over houseThe definition of dissipation is, “The expenditure of marital funds on purposes unrelated to the marriage at a time when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.” Marital funds means any and all assets or earnings acquired during the marriage. There are two difficult factors in determining whether dissipation exists:

  1. Whether the marriage had been undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown at the time marital funds were spent by one of the parties; and
  2. Whether or not the expenditure of funds was for a purpose unrelated to the marriage.

Dissipation can be a very effective tool in a divorce case, because once a spouse claims that the other has committed Dissipation, it is incumbent on the other spouse to present clear and specific evidence that no Dissipation has taken place.

For example, assume Susan is a wealthy doctor who is married and has two children with her husband, Alfred. While married to Alfred, Susan begins dating a nurse named Tommy. Susan eventually stops coming home at night, and ends up having children with Tommy while still married to Alfred. Furthermore, Tommy, who has been working at Beverly Hillbilly Hospital for $35,000.00 annually quits his job and goes to work as Susan’s private nurse at a salary of $95,000.00. Three years later, Susan’s husband, Alfred, files for divorce and claims dissipation of marital funds by Susan, because Susan has been paying exorbitant marital funds to her boyfriend, Tommy the nurse. Does Dissipation exist?

Alfred’s argument is that Susan had been depleting marital assets by overpaying Tommy $60,000.00 as a nurse at the time that his marriage to Susan was undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown. Alfred is going to ask for reimbursement of funds to the marital estate. Susan is going to claim that Tommy is a “top-notch nurse” and was entitled to a $60,000.00 raise when he came to work for her. Do you think Dissipation will be proved in this case?

Other examples in Illinois which Dissipation has been found are as follows:

  1. Husband traveled to Las Vegas and lost money while the marriage was in the middle of an irreconcilable breakdown;
  2. Husband moved out of the marital residence, purchased a second home during his divorce proceedings, and purchased furniture for his new home;
  3. Husband had been dating another woman and purchased a Mink coat for her, as well as gave her $30,000.00 to open a beauty salon while he was still married to his wife;
  4. Husband took a vacation with his girlfriend, paid for her plane ticket and the hotel room while his marriage was going through an irreconcilable breakdown;
  5. Husband bought his girlfriend a car while his marriage was going through an irreconcilable breakdown.

Illinois courts have held that the issue of Dissipation depends upon the facts in each case. If you are involved in a divorce proceeding and you suspect that your spouse has a “significant other,” be sure to have your attorney investigate the issue of Dissipation.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Children out of Wedlock

Jul 25

Children out of wedlock

It has become increasingly common in today’s society for parents to give birth to children out of wedlock. Prior to July 10, 2003, the law in Illinois treated married parents differently than parents who had children without the benefit of having been married. Although it might have been easier to break off financial ties between individuals who never married, it is no longer easier for an individual who has never been married to remove her child or children from the State of Illinois.

mother with two young kidsThe Illinois Parentage Act now requires a custodial parent who wishes to remove a child or children from the State of Illinois to first petition the Court to request permission to do so. The factors an Illinois court is required to consider in deciding whether to allow the custodial parent to move to another state are the same factors that a court must consider for a couple going through a divorce, or for couples that have already been divorced. These factors are:

  1. Whether the move outside Illinois will likely improve the quality of life of the children?
  2. What are the motives of the moving parent?
  3. What are the motives of the parent resisting the move out of state?
  4. What has been the past parenting time pattern for the non-custodial parent?
  5. Can a realistic and reasonable parenting time schedule be implemented after the move?

In addition, the Illinois Parentage Act has also added a section which allows the father to apply to the court for an injunction prohibiting the mother from removing the minor child or children from the State of Illinois during any paternity proceeding.

This relatively new law was discussed in detail in a case decided by the Illinois Appellate Court on February 16, 2005. In this recent case, Jill and Vincent had given birth to their daughter, Callie, on February 6, 1998. Jill and Vincent were never married. Five years later on July 5, 2003, Jill married Christopher. Christopher had been unemployed for six months, and eventually found a job in Indiana earning $60,000.00 annually. Jill was employed part-time, and this part-time employment occasionally required Jill to leave home. Jill had also become pregnant with her new husband and was going to give birth to her second child, Callie’s half-sibling.

After Vincent became aware that Jill wanted to move to the State of Indiana, Vincent filed an application with the court requesting that Jill be enjoined and prohibited from moving out of state with his daughter, Callie. In deciding whether to grant the injunction, the court was required to consider several factors including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Vincent’s previous involvement with Callie prior to coming to court;
  2. The likelihood that Vincent was, in fact, the biological father of Callie; and
  3. The impact on Jill’s financial status, and her physical and emotional health from requiring Jill to remain in Illinois with Callie.

In ruling on Vincent’s application for an injunction asking to prohibit Jill from removing Callie from the State of Illinois, several witnesses testified, including a psychologist, Jill, her new husband, Christopher, Callie’s social worker who had been visiting with Callie for behavior problems, and Callie’s biological father, Vincent.

At the trial court level, Vincent’s request to enjoin and prohibit Jill from moving to Indiana with her new husband and the minor child was denied, and Jill was given permission to move; however, the case did not end in the trial court. Vincent filed an appeal, arguing in effect, that it was not in Callie’s best interests to be removed from the State of Illinois and be separated from her biological father. What do you think the Appellate Court decided?

On February 16, 2005, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the trial court decision, and enjoined and prohibited Jill from moving to the State of Indiana with her new husband and the minor child, Callie. If Jill wanted to move to Indiana, she would have to turn Callie over to the biological father. In arriving at this decision, the Illinois Appellate Court held that Vincent had presented sufficient evidence to establish that if Callie were removed from Illinois, his relationship with his biological daughter would be severely tarnished, she would be separated from her extended paternal family, she would see her biological father less often, her biological father would not be able to attend school functions, and there was substantial concern as to how Callie would be cared for by her step-father when the biological mother was out of town on work assignments.

In summary, when having children out of wedlock, the burden for establishing one’s right to move out of state with a minor child or children rests with the custodial parent. From a societal point of view, I agree with the decision because individuals who decide to have children out of wedlock are now required to confront the same hurdles as divorced parents when seeking permission to move out of state with their child or children.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Are single parents chained to Illinois?

Jul 25

Are single parents chained to Illinois?

Have you ever seen the commercial for Southwest Airlines where the ending words are, “You are now free to move about the country?” A wonderful thought for vacationers! After listening to this advertisement four or five times, it reminded me of a recent Illinois Family Law case in which a divorced mother of two young daughters (10 years old and 8 years old) recently wanted to move from Highland Park, Illinois to Seattle, Washington.single parent

In 1991, mom and dad entered into an amicable divorce, agreeing to share allocation of parental responsibilities of their two daughters. The two children lived with mom on a daily basis, and visited with dad often, sometimes three or four times each week.

In 1994, mom remarried, and in 1995, gave birth to her third child, the first with her new husband. In 1997, mom’s second husband received an offer for a job promotion. He had been earning $37,000.00 annually while employed in Skokie, Illinois. His promotion offered him an increased salary ($44,000.00 annually), plus the likelihood of earning a $200,000.00 bonus if sales continued as planned.

The biological father of the two daughters continued to enjoy a close relationship with his children, visited them every week, and sometimes up to four days per week. Dad paid substantial child support every week, and never missed parenting time.

If you were the judge, would you allow mom to move with her second husband and three kids (two from her prior marriage) to Seattle, Washington?

Under Illinois Law, a parent having custody of his or her children that wishes to leave the State must file a petition in court seeking permission to move out of state. This process is called filing a Petition for Removal. When an Illinois court conducts its hearing on the custodial parent’s Petition for Removal, it is required to take into account the following five elements:

  1. What is the likelihood that the move to another city outside the State of Illinois will enhance the general quality of life of the custodial parent, as well as the quality of life of the minor children?
  2. Whether or not the custodial parent’s motives in seeking removal to another city and state are sincere, or simply intended as a ruse to frustrate the non-custodial parenting time with his children?
  3. What are the non-custodial parent’s motives in resisting his former spouse’s Petition for Removal?
  4. Has the non-custodial parent exercised his or her parenting time schedule diligently?
  5. Once the move out of state is allowed, can a reasonable and realistic parenting time schedule can still be obtained?

I wonder how many people reading this article are asking themselves whether or not the custodial parent in this case was given permission to move to Seattle, Washington. Keep reading.

Imagine being the judge having to decide the fate of these children’s lives when a Petition for Removal cannot be settled between the parents. How many witnesses does each parent need to call? Where will the children be better served? Is the custodial parent entitled to move with her new spouse to a distant location which would allow her to improve the quality of her life and her family? After all, the non-custodial parent is “free to move about the country.”

What about the father who has seen his children every week for the last six years? If Removal is allowed, how will dad’s relationship with his children change? What kind of compromise could you forge as a judge?

In the case described above, the judge decided that the mother’s reasons for wanting to move two thousand miles away were insufficient to overcome the father’s valid reasons for resisting Removal. Dad had seen the kids three to four days every week, and if his children were allowed to move to Seattle, Washington, even though he might be permitted to visit with the children for months at a time during the Summer, the judge decided this was not adequate to replace the current parenting time arrangements with his children.

Sadly, cases such as the one described above take place in Cook County, Lake County, and DuPage County often. The moral of this story is… when you have children, don’t get divorced!

Contact The Law Office of Micheal P. Doman and a Chicago Divorce Attorney can help you determine the right course of action for your case.

Are Grandparents Entitled to Parenting Time Privileges?

Jul 25

Are grandparents entitled to parenting time privileges?

On August 13, 2001, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld the constitutionality of the Illinois Grandparent Visitation statute in the divorce case, Michael Mehring vs. Julie Mehring. This decision was significant for all grandparents throughout the State of Illinois, because last year, the Illinois Grandparent visitation statute was partially struck down in the case, Lulay vs. Lulay. In the Lulay case, both mom and dad opposed parenting time by the paternal grandparents, and in that case, the paternal grandparents were prohibited from petitioning for parenting time with their grandchildren. The current Illinois law regarding grandparent parenting time with grandchildren can be summarized as follows:

grandparent and grandchildren sitting on bridgeGrandparents can petition for parenting time privileges with their grandchildren in general under the following circumstances:

  1. Mom and dad do not live together;
  2. Either parent has been absent from the marital home for more than one month; or
  3. Either mom or dad is deceased.

Typically the issue of grandparent parenting time arises during a divorce proceeding, or after a divorce proceeding has been completed. The constitutionality of the Illinois statute, as well as many other state grandparent parenting time statutes across the country, has been challenged on the basis that parents’ rights to make decisions for their minor children should be absolute, because these rights should be guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

In rejecting this reasoning, the Illinois Appellate Court has stated that for intact families, the State does not interfere in the decision making process for minor children. Also, there are many situations in which Illinois does impose its rules on behalf of parents. For example, the State government can:

  1. Require parents to keep their children in school;
  2. Prohibit parents form placing their children into the labor force;
  3. Require blood transfusions for children over the parents’ objections for religious reasons;
  4. Prohibit children from getting married under the age of eighteen.

If all of these laws are constitutional, then what is the problem with an Illinois law allowing for grandparent parenting time over the objection of one of the parents if the court feels that such parenting time would be in the best interests of the minor children? If both parents object to grandparents visiting with their grandchildren during or after a divorce proceeding, then such parenting time can be prohibited; however, so long as one parent believes that grandparents should visit with the minor children, then the issue can be raised in court.

By way of example, assume that Charlie Brown and Lucy get married, and have a child named Peanuts. Peanuts is five years old, has visited with Charlie Brown’s parents once or twice each month since Peanuts was born, and would like to continue seeing Peanuts. Lucy files for divorce against Charlie Brown blaming Charlie Brown’s parents for their breakup. Lucy says Charlie Brown is “too attached” to his parents and she does not want Peanuts to see his paternal grandparents on a regular basis. Lucy says during the divorce process, that Charlie Brown’s parents are prohibited from visiting with Peanuts. Under these circumstances, and pursuant to Section 607(b)(i)D of the Illinois of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Charlie Brown’s parents can file an independent petition for grandparent parenting time privileges with Peanuts, and there is a reasonable likelihood that this petition will be granted.

In summary, the validity and enforceability of the Illinois Grandparent Visitation Statute, which came into effect on August 19, 1999 is both constitutional and fully enforceable.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. today!

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities: Do I Have a Say?

Apr 14

parental responsibilities

Laws regarding parenting between divorced spouses have changed dramatically in Illinois. Once called child custody, these new laws went into effect at the beginning of 2016 and are now referred to as allocation of parental responsibilities. Ultimately, the court will award parental decision-making tasks, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a say in the process.

The new Illinois law, in fact, calls for a parent plan to outline items included in the allocation of parental responsibilities. These documents are similar to the joint parenting plans or agreed orders previously used in family law cases for custody, visitation and support issues. The idea behind the new law is to make these agreements more structured and to better reflect how decisions are actually made.

Assignment of Responsibilities:

Under the previous law, child custody was generally designated as sole custody or joint custody to determine who would make the final decision in major areas of a child’s life. In other words, either one or both parents would make all decisions. Under the 2016 Illinois Child Custody law, the court will determine which parent will be responsible for each subject.

The four major areas that are part of such agreements are:

The court will only assign responsibility for religious upbringing when there is clear evidence that the parents had followed specific practices or had a prior agreement on this issue.

A judge can now award education and extracurricular decisions, for example, to the mother, while healthcare decisions are the father’s responsibility. The facts and circumstances of each situation will determine assignment of parental responsibilities.

Developing a parenting agreement with the help of Chicago family law attorneys that you and your ex-partner can agree on before heading to court is in your best interests as judges will often award responsibilities per your decisions. For help in determining parental responsibilities, contact the law offices of Michael P. Doman for help.

3 Ways to Plan for the Holidays when Divorced with Children

Nov 28

single parent during holiday season, divorced with childrenWhat makes holidays special is the family gathering together and depending on which holiday it is, sharing gifts bought for each other. When this will no longer be happening because their parents have split up, it takes a toll on children. While there may be ill feelings and ill will between the two parents who are splitting up, they both need to be civil and courteous for the sake of their children especially when it comes to how holidays will be spent.

There are three ways to do this;

1) Agree to enjoy part of the holiday together at a neutral location
Perhaps the marriage has ended because one partner was unfaithful, irresponsible with money or done something else that is very hurting or offending. For this reason, the offended partner may not want the other back in the marital home, even for a visit. A holiday can still be enjoyed at a neutral place like lunch at a family restaurant or at a theme park.

2) Involve older kids in planning for the holidays
Very young kids may not be able to understand that one parent will no longer be living with them. Older ones can. Help them get over their feelings about the divorce by involving them in holiday planning. Ideally, this should be done with both parents present so that they can discuss the options with the kids. If it’s possible to fit in all that the children want to do during a holiday, it should be done. Otherwise, discuss compromises that work for the kids.

3) Hold double celebrations
If one parent has moved far away and cannot make it for personal special days like birthdays and even holidays, double the fun and hold double celebrations. Let the kids celebrate separately with both parents when they have their time with the child or children. This way, there is no feeling of missing out.

Having handled so many divorces, the team of Chicago divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. has seen firsthand how harmful divorce can be on families. It is for this reason that The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. Chicago divorce attorneys do all that they can to try and reach agreements with the other party about custody and how holidays will be spent. We are not just about making a divorce final but also helping our clients and everyone to reach amicable agreements and move on.











Establishing Paternity: It’s Not as Easy as D-N-A

Apr 01

Work with experienced Chicago Family Law Attorneys Today!


If you have questions about establishing paternity, contact us today!

We’ve all seen the shows. The envelope comes in. The man and woman are nervous. The audience leans forward. The host unfolds the piece of paper, and out comes those words: “You . . . are the father!” DNA tests are simply and accurate. But what distinguishes these one-off paternity tests on TV from real life is that in a real life court room, you cannot always request a DNA test.

In a court room, paternity is implicit if it has already been established. There are four ways to establish paternity in Illinois. First is the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form that each parent is given the opportunity to sign and date, in front of a witness, immediately after the birth of the child. This adds the father’s name to the birth certificate. By signing this, the parents have agreed the father is the biological father, and both have waived their right to genetic testing.

After the VAP, establishing paternity gets more complicated. Second, Child Support Services can enter an Administrative Paternity Order to make sure a child is financially supported. Third, a party (the child, mother, mother to be, a government agency, or the supposed father) can file a paternity action, and finally, marriage establishes paternity.

If any of those four cases have been fulfilled, paternity has been established, and during a case, that paternity has already been accepted by the court, and the father’s right to demand a DNA test has disappeared. This is by no means a dead-end, however, and having the right lawyer on your side can secure the right to a DNA test, no matter what paternity has been established before. If you’re caught in an uncertain paternity situation, contact a Chicago Family law attorney at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today.

How Can You Help Your Kids Cope With Your Divorce?

Feb 05

Ending your marriage can be one of the most stressful times of your life. If this is a bad time for you, imagine how it must feel for your kids. When children’s family dynamic is suddenly changed, it can be deeply upsetting. We are not saying you should remain in a miserable marriage for the sake of the kids – there is evidence that shows staying in a bad marriage is even worse for children in the long term. However, there are ways you can handle your Chicago divorce that may help your children adjust and accept these changes.

father comforting daughter

Honesty and understanding can help children cope with divorce. Call our law offices to begin the divorce legal process.

How do you address the topic of divorce with your children? The key is honesty. You can be honest about the split in an age-appropriate way that your kids will understand. For younger children, they may need a simple explanation such as, “Mommy and Daddy have been fighting so much, we think that living apart may help us get along and be better parents.” Older children will need a bit more information, but you can still keep the explanation appropriate, especially if it concerns sensitive subjects.

During the divorce process and while you are co-parenting in different households, the way you treat each other is important. You may be dealing with raw, difficult emotions, but you should not air out your conflicts in front of the kids. It can help to approach parenting as a business arrangement, with the well-being of your children a common goal.

You will need to listen to your children’s needs and concerns during this time, and reassure them that they are loved by both of you even if you no longer love each other. Establishing consistent routines in your new household can give your children a sense of stability. Even if your ex does things differently, your kids will understand what is expected of them in your home if you stick to the rules. You can also come up with new family traditions that may help ease the blow of a divorce and make new, positive memories.

Divorce is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. The Chicago divorce attorneys at Michael P. Doman can help you during each stage of the process.

How to Change a Child Support Order in Chicago

Sep 14

You’ve been taking care of the children since the divorce and making due with the child support that comes in, but you just found out your ex has a new job and makes much more than ever before. You want your children to benefit from their parent’s income increase, but your ex thinks you should still be satisfied with what the original support order determined. What can you do? Read more for the steps to change a child support order in Chicago. shutterstock_128447138

Income levels and the needs of your children will change over time. In recognition of this, once every three years the Division of Child Support Services in Chicago will notify you that you are able to request a modification of your child support order. However, you do not have to wait for this notification, if one of these other conditions exists:

If any of these factors are at play, you can file a request for a modification review with the Division of Child Support Services. If the DCSS agrees that changes in your circumstances mean you are eligible for a review, they will require both parents to submit income information. This will be used to recalculate the amount of the child support order.

What if the court doesn’t agree that your child support should increase? Whether you feel like your spouse was dishonest in the reported income or that the courts do not fully understanding the needs of your children, you are able to contest the modification results. The process will depend on whether you have a judicial order or an administrative order.

If you need to fight for the rights of your children, the Law Office of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. is here to help. We focus on divorce and family law because we care about the needs of children and families. Contact us today for a consultation on your unique case, and let our extensive experience help your children.