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Kane County family law attorneysUnfortunately, not every marriage ends happily ever after as they do in the fairytales. In some cases, spouses simply grow apart or cannot reconcile due to infidelity or an addiction problem. When a couple has a child with a physical or mental disability, it can also put a significant strain on their relationship. In these family situations, the decision to divorce can be especially difficult. The thought of caring for a special needs child as a single parent can be overwhelming. On top of the usual issues that need to be resolved, such as the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and the division of property or assets, there can be a lot of uncertainty about caring for your child as a divorced parent.   

Disabilities Can Take Different Forms 

A special needs child is a minor who has been diagnosed with a condition that requires attention and certain assistance that other children do not. The state may declare this status for the purpose of offering benefits for the child’s well-being and growth. Some of these conditions may result in occupational or physical therapy, in addition to emotional or behavioral support. In some cases, a child may be confined to a wheelchair or need a seeing-eye dog. 

The following disabilities are typically placed in specific categories: 

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St. Charles family law attorneysParenting children under the same roof can be challenging in and of itself, but parenting them from separate homes almost always requires an even greater amount of effort. Yet, studies have consistently shown that children usually fare best in a divorce if they have the continued support of both parents. Illinois’ family laws encourage parents to work together in meeting the mental, emotional, and financial needs of their kids during and after their divorce. Most often, this goal is met through the drafting of a parenting plan, which contains two major components: the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody) and parenting time (previously referred to as visitation). 

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities 

Throughout the course of a normal day, parents make multiple decisions about their children’s lives and future. While most decisions are relatively minor and require no prior “clearance” or approval from the other parent, there are certain aspects of their kids’ well-being that are considered “protected.” Examples include choices regarding education and religion. Parents also have certain legal obligations to their children, such as ensuring that the children’s medical needs are met. These issues are covered under the allocation of parental responsibilities. 

Under the Illinois Marriage and Marriage Dissolution Act (IMDMA), the law seeks to ease the often difficult transition related to the division of parental rights and responsibilities, including the decision-making authority between the parents in addition to where the children will live. In handling these sections of their parenting plan, some divorcing parents may reach an agreement easily. However, they must also figure out how disagreements will be handled, should they arise in the future. 

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St. Charles family law attorneyDuring a divorce, parents may develop  a parenting plan that is beneficial for both themselves and their children. Although these plans are often created with much thought and detail, changes can occur that may require a modification. Updated schedules, unexpected relocations, and the children's education or extracurricular activities could cause issues to arise. Depending on the reasons behind the potential adjustment, as well as the agreement of both parents, a court may approve a modification request. Ultimately, the court will make a decision that is in the best interest of the involved children.

What Should Parents Consider Before Deciding Responsibilities?

Aspects of a person's life may change significantly after a divorce is final. For parents that are getting divorced, it is important to reach mutual agreements on key factors that will affect your future and that of your children. For example, the distance between each parent’s residences is a topic that may lead to significant difficulties if either parent wishes to find a new place to live. Although a new residence may work better for one parent, it might not be compatible with the children's school schedule. Furthermore, children may have difficulties adjusting to a new community. The wishes of each parent and the child (as appropriate) should be considered before a parenting plan is finalized.    

Modification Limitations

For children going through a divorce, having a relationship with both parents could be in their best interest. Creating a stable environment for children can help foster their growth and development. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Marriage Act, unless the children's well-being is at risk, an adjustment will not usually be made within the first two years of the original agreement.

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St. Charles family law attorneysMany things change after a couple decides to separate. In some cases, one parent may have been a stay-at-home parent before the divorce, but now they must find a new job. When they land a job, they may need to move to be closer, and they will, of course, want to bring their children.

If it is a short distance, the parents should have no trouble relocating with their children. However, in the Chicago metropolitan area, a parent cannot move over 25 miles within Illinois or out of the state without permission from the other parent and/or the court. In other parts of Illinois, in-state moves of over 50 miles require prior permission. 

What Are Some Reasons to Want to Move?

As already stated, a new job may be a reason for the primary parent to move, but it is not the only reason a parent will elect to move. Sometimes, a move is necessary to:

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