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The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

When Illinois couples decide to end their marriages and go their separate ways, the divorce process can be complicated - particularly if there are children involved. While most parents want what is best for their children, it could be challenging to balance the needs and schedules of the children with their own. Before making decisions about child custody, it might be best to understand the differences between joint and shared custody.

Although it is often perceived as the same thing, there are differences between the two types of custody. Shared custody allows each parent physical custody by providing food, shelter and care for 50 percent of the time. However, it is a flexible arrangement by which parents can agree on parenting plans that will also accommodate their own schedules. This type of child custody allows parents to determine whether the rights to make important decisions will be shared or allocated to one parent.

With joint custody, every aspect of the child's care and upbringing must be shared equally between the two parents. A continued good relationship between them is crucial because they will have to meet frequently to make joint decisions. This arrangement prohibits one parent to make any changes to important aspects of the child's life without the consent of the other parent. This includes health care, education, religion, extracurricular activities and more.

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The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

Many Illinois parents likely understand that it is always best to reach an agreement between both parties during the divorce process that is in the best interests of their children. Child custody orders put in place by the court are a common way to ensure the physical and emotional needs of any children involved are met. However, on some occasions, a child custody battle is not between two parents, but between parents and the state.

In September 2017, Illinois courts ordered a social worker to remove a minor child from the custody of his parents. Judges may order a removal for a myriad of reasons, including, but not limited to, suspicions of abuse or neglect on the part of the parent or unsafe living conditions. While most parents would be horrified at the thought of losing their children, a child custody order is considered legally binding and must be followed.

The female social worker was attacked by one or both parents when she attempted to remove the child from the home. She was left with a fractured skull, among other injuries. She lost her life in February 2018 as a result of the assault. Lawmakers are attempting to stiffen the penalties against people who try to physically interfere with social workers acting on behalf of the court.

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The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

After you do the hard work of putting together a parenting plan with your child's other parent, you may face a number of complications when it comes to putting the plan into practice. Some of these may be logistical hurdles, while others are complications brought on by the other parent refusing to properly abide by the guidelines of the parenting plan. 

Should the other parent choose to disobey the parenting plan, you may have legal grounds to enforce the terms and protect your rights and privileges as a parent. Depending on the specifics of the circumstances, the other parent may be engaging in parenting time interference, which the courts tend to take very seriously. 

What is direct interference?

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The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

In order to have parents and school officials on the same page, it can be helpful to share important family information. If the parents are divorced, and a child custody order is in place, sharing the order with the school can help prevent confusion. Illinois families typically create custody orders during a divorce, which set the guidelines for legal and physical custody. When the information is shared with the school, the parents can work with the school to ensure that the proper procedures are followed.

When a child enters a school at the beginning of the year with an order in place, the parents may want to take the extra step to inform the school. This way, the officials will know who to contact and when in case of an emergency. Also, if a parent or another individual is prohibited from seeing the child, he or she can be prevented from taking the child if it is not authorized.

Some schools take extra steps to protect students, like having guests sign in and be on an approved list before taking a child. Sometimes there is confusion as to whether a noncustodial parent can access the child's school records, whether the noncustodial parent is allowed to visit the child at school, or pick him or her up. By working with the courts through the custody order, these matters can be settled.

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The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

Changing trends regarding parenting after divorce may soon be affecting laws in the state. Recently, a bill was introduced on the floor at the Illinois statehouse that asks for changes in how child custody is handled during divorce cases. The requested move will favor a co-parenting model instead of the more common one-parent guardianship that often happens in these types of cases.

The bill was introduced by a state representative. A hearing will be held on his proposal when lawmakers return to work next week. The co-parenting program that he is proposing has started to catch on in other jurisdictions. Recently, Kentucky enacted a similar law that gave both parents an equal stake during most custody proceedings.

Supporters and opponents have begun to speak out about the bill. Supporters are pleased to see a chance for equal parenting, citing studies that claim that children who remain close with both parents are better adjusted than those who only have an intimate relationship with one parent. Some groups fear the change will enable abusive or controlling spouses to continue to have an unhealthy hold on the family.

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