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What is the "Right of First Refusal?"

Posted on in Child Custody

wheaton child custody lawyerChildren are often caught in the middle of divorce proceedings, causing more significant amounts of stress to the divorcing parties. When parents get divorced, parents are often concerned that the divorce will disrupt their children's lives. To alleviate the burden of the impending divorce, parents must create a parenting plan. Within a parenting plan, topics like the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time guidelines are set so that once the divorce is finalized, the children's lives will be as stable as possible. 

Parenting plans are essential in ensuring that each parent will play a role in their children's lives. However, what happens when one parent is supposed to watch the children but, for whatever reason, is unable? Parenting plans may prepare for this scenario through a “right of first refusal.” If you are getting divorced and have children, consult with an experienced divorce attorney who is well-versed in the creation of parenting plans so you can have the peace of mind that once your divorce is official, your children's life will go on with the guidance and support of both parents. 

Defining the "Right of First Refusal" 

Through the right of first refusal, if a parent cannot watch the children, they must contact the other parent before contacting a babysitter, friend, or relative to watch them. At the core of the right of first refusal is the belief that the most beneficial environment for children to grow up in is with their parents. 

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DuPage County Parenting Plan LawyerIf you have recently gotten divorced, you may wonder whether you can leave Illinois and move to another state with your minor child. After all, without your marriage keeping you here, you may want to move closer to family, pursue other job opportunities, or simply go somewhere with winters that do not require you to dig your car out from under two feet of snow. 

But relocation is much more complicated when there is a minor child and a court-ordered parenting plan involved. If you want to relocate with your child and explore the potential to change your custody order in your new state, you need to understand the rules about child relocation as well as when Illinois retains jurisdiction over a child who lives out of state. 

Can I Move My Child Out of Illinois After Divorce? 

Unless you are the only parent with parenting time and parental responsibilities, you cannot unilaterally decide to move your child out of state. Your parenting plan likely has specific rules about when you can relocate with your child, and it is important that you follow those rules exactly. Leaving the state without permission from your child’s other parent or the court can result in having your child physically removed from you by law enforcement, as well as having a negative impact on your own parenting time or parental responsibilities in the future. 

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Wheaton Parenting Time LawyerWith the help of a mediator or collaborative divorce team, most parents can come to an agreement about a parenting plan during their Illinois divorce. But for some families, the presence of domestic violence, substance abuse, or the death of a parent can make negotiating and planning difficult or impossible. 

When parents cannot make decisions in a child’s best interests, a judge will do so. While a judge has to use discretion and good judgement, a “child’s best interests” is not a completely subjective term. Rather, the Illinois legislature gives up at least 15 factors that a judge could consider when making decisions about a child’s well-being. Read on to learn what these are. 

What Factors Are Considered in a Child’s Well-Being in an Illinois Custody Dispute? 

The factors a judge will consider must depend on the circumstances of each case. The child’s age, the parent’s home environment, and the relationship between a child and a non-parent  pursuing custody can affect which factors will be taken into account. The most common things a judge will consider include, but are not limited to: 

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wheaton divorce lawyerAs life moves on after divorce and you and your minor children adjust to living in a one-parent home, certain changes may necessitate modifying parts of your original divorce decree. One common feature of life after divorce is remarriage, whether it be yours or that of your former spouse. In addition to the other changes that come with remarriage, you may also be wondering whether it will change your parenting plan or other parts of your divorce decree, like child support or spousal support. If you or your ex are getting remarried in Illinois, read on. 

Can I Change Our Custody Arrangements if I Get Remarried in Illinois? 

Unless a remarriage of either parent would impact the best interests of the child, the parenting plan is not likely to need a modification following the wedding. However, certain circumstances may warrant petitioning for a change in a parenting plan, including: 

  • A child who is old enough to express her preferences who wants to spend more time in one household than the parenting plan currently allows for 

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wheaton divorce lawyerGetting sole custody of a child is difficult in Illinois and many fathers who have tried would argue that it is even more difficult if you are not a child’s mother. Judges are reluctant to keep a child away from a parent without a compelling reason, and although many parents dislike their ex’s parenting style, few behaviors are serious enough to warrant giving full parental responsibilities and parenting time to just one parent. 

In genuine cases of abuse or neglect, Illinois courts can and do restrict the abusive parent’s access to a child, either by heavily limiting contact or curtailing it entirely. Yet the difficulty of bringing such a case before a judge should not dissuade fathers who are concerned their children are suffering. If you find yourself wondering whether you may be able to get full custody of your children in Illinois, read this blog and then contact a custody modification attorney who can help. 

When is a Parent Unfit in Illinois? 

Because Illinois law recognizes that children do best when both parents play a substantial role in their lives, parents are rarely deemed unfit even when their parenting style leaves much to be desired. However, there are some parental behaviors that do merit either significant restriction or complete termination of parental rights in Illinois. This include: 

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