Many couples who are unhappy put off filing for divorce if they have children together. The thought of hurting their kids by breaking up the family can be overwhelming. However, ending a dysfunctional marriage may benefit everyone in the long run. In Illinois, parenting time (visitation) refers to when a parent sees his or her child after a divorce or breakup. Parents can develop their own arrangement for parenting time, but a judge will still have to approve the schedule. When a couple cannot reach an agreement, the court will determine an appropriate parenting time schedule for the parents.
Illinois Divorce Laws
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) is divided into two main elements. The first aspect involves decision-making authority for important issues, such as education, religion, and healthcare. The second basic element of parental responsibility is parenting time, which may include the right of first refusal. This means that if a parent intends to leave a child with a caregiver for a substantial amount of time, that parent must first offer the other parent an opportunity to take care of the child. Examples of third parties include a babysitter, relative, stepparent, friend, or daycare facility.
First Refusal Rights
When divorcing parents or the court includes the right of first refusal in a parenting plan, the plan must address details of how the right can be exercised. This includes:
- Duration of Absence: The length of absence that prompts the offer of parenting time must be designated. For instance, if a parent needs to report to work for a few hours on the weekend or make a quick trip to the pharmacy or grocery store, should that be considered for the right of first refusal? In some cases, a longer period of time may be established.
- Alternate Care Options: The type of alternative childcare options that generate the right must be determined (stepparent, grandparent, older sibling, friend).
- Making the Offer: How the other parent is notified must be stated in the agreement. In addition, how much advance notice must be given and whether the notification can be delivered via text message, email, or phone call.
- Acceptance/Rejection: The protocol and timeline for acceptance must also be outlined, including how long the offered parent can wait before accepting or rejecting an offer.
- Transportation: If the offer is accepted, how will the child get to and from each parent’s residence? Who will drop off and pick up?
Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer
Making the decision to divorce can be difficult, especially when you and your spouse have a child together. Spending as much time with your child as possible is likely your priority once the marriage is over. The accomplished law firm of Weiler & Lengle P.C. understands how important child-related issues are after a divorce. Our knowledgeable St. Charles parenting time attorneys are committed to making sure your parental rights are not violated when creating an Illinois parenting time agreement. Call our office today at 630-382-8050 to schedule your private consultation.