Tagged as child visitation

Separating Parents: What’s Best for Children?

How does a parent contemplating divorce or separation keep a child feeling loved, supported, and safe? This is a question often posed by clients and it was covered recently in an article published by The Washington Post, “Separating parents want what’s best for their 2-year-old. What is that?” Here are a few tips to help separating parents:

Understand the child’s perspective.

For instance, a young child does not understand time and cannot comprehend a parenting time schedule. To help a child feel safe at either house, a good solution is to have things that remind the child of a parent at both parent’s homes such placing a photo of the other parent in the child’s room, developing the tradition to wish (mommy or daddy) a good night too, re-telling family stories such as the child’s birth story that includes both parents, or asking the other parent to provide a recorded bed-time story for the child.

Allocate 5-10 minutes for drop-offs and pick-ups of the child.

Plan with the other parent to discuss simple topics such as the weather, upcoming child events, or just make small talk. If both parents are discussing simple topics in a calm manner, the child will likely remain calm during the transition as well. Please save your irritation or anger at the other party for the ear of a dear friend or counselor. Drop-offs are not a time to express dissatisfaction with the other parent.

Do not take a child’s rejection personally.

Even if both parents do their best to make transitions calm, the child may cling to the parent they are leaving. This is natural and common. As the article states, a young child “just wants and needs to be with her main attachments.” She may cling to you one day, and then cling to the other parent the next day. Try not to take it personally. It is common for parents to report their child does not want to visit the other parent’s house when in fact it might just be the child expressing its natural attachment.

Parenting is hard. There are often no right or wrong answers but there are tips and tools that can be used to help a child feel loved, supported and safe in both parent’s homes. If you are contemplating separation or divorce and are worried about your children, please contact me to discuss
developing your parenting plan.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over fourteen years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

Child Custody And Visitation For Parents In Different States

ed266c96-1665-4bbe-9ad1-c6f852414bb0Today’s mobile society often creates difficult decisions for divorced parents and their children, particularly when a parent needs to move out of the state where the children reside.

Last October, I wrote a blog about the importance and value of collaborative divorce for couples with children, which reviewed the case of a mother’s petition to move from Illinois to California with her minor child due to a change in employment.

Recently, my firm worked on a similar case that generated a very positive outcome, proving once again that divorce collaboration is a powerful tool for solving custody and visitation issues.

CASE OVERVIEW

The focus of this case was to resolve a child custody and visitation matter between parents who lived in two different states. Complicating the overall issues between the adults was the fact that their child had never left Illinois and was not comfortable traveling to another state.

Our initial strategy was to make the custody and visitation matters a priority, working to first resolve the parenting plan so that everyone involved, especially the child, would have the time they needed to work on the emotions they were all experiencing.

SATISFYING RESULTS THROUGH COLLABORATION

By helping the parties to focus on the child and not the entire divorce settlement (money, debt, support, etc.), they were able to develop a parenting plan that first and foremost met the needs of their child.

Once that parenting plan was established, the other aspects of the divorce were resolved more quickly, in part because the parties had first settled the emotionally difficult matter of child visitation and custody.

This case is another great example of how collaborative divorce and divorce mediation services can create outcomes that work for all parties in the Illinois divorce process, often without much or any time spent in a courtroom.

As an attorney who is specially trained in these practices, I can help you achieve the same kinds of positive outcomes in your divorce. Contact me for more information.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

 

Understanding The Role Of A GAL

GAL WorkIf your Illinois divorce includes child visitation or custody arrangements, you may be assigned a Guardian Ad Litem, often referred to as a GAL.

In Family Court, the role of this specially trained, court-appointed advocate is to protect the interests of minor children in a divorce by making recommendations to the Judge regarding custody and visitation decisions. While Judges are not required to follow a GAL’s recommendations, they often do.

The attorneys of both parents have the right to cross-examine the GAL regarding the recommendations given to the Judge.

GAL DUTIES

Once appointed, a GAL has two main duties during the custody discussions:

  • To determine what decisions will be in the best interests of the children;

  • To investigate and report to the Court on anything the GAL determines will have an effect (positive or negative) on the children.

Information is gathered in a variety of ways, most often through in-depth discussions with the child and the child’s parents. Known as a home study, this can include questions about the current situation and what you believe your child requires both now and in the future.

If necessary, the GAL will also speak with others who have insights about the child’s welfare such as teachers, neighbors, friends, relatives and doctors. The parents must provide signed releases in some of these situations.

Parents and parties involved in an Illinois divorce case should know that while there are certain duties and obligations of the GAL, information provided to the GAL is not confidential and can be disclosed to the court.

GAL TRAINING

To perform the role of a GAL, a person must participate in on-going specialized training for their particular legal jurisdiction to understand the relevant laws and specific procedures that must be followed. Topics can include mediation and negotiation skills, family and domestic violence issues, child development issues, dynamics of child abuse and neglect, and more.

For Illinois child custody cases, a Guardian Ad Litem is often an attorney who has been practicing for a specific number of years before being appointed to the role. A GAL’s report usually carries a great deal of weight with the court, so it’s important to cooperate as much as possible with the GAL and follow instructions.

I am a trained GAL who has been appointed several times a year as a Guardian Ad Litem for children in a divorce or parental custody situation. A significant amount of my practice is devoted to working with children, and I welcome the opportunity to seek their best interests in a DuPage County divorce situation.

If you need information or assistance on working with a GAL in your divorce or custody case, contact me to learn more.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

3 Tips For A Quick Divorce In DuPage County

Divorce Signpost Means Custody Split Assets And LawyersMost people think that divorce is a long, drawn-out process that takes years to be finalized.

The truth is that with some practical planning and professional assistance, it is possible to have your DuPage County divorce completed quickly and with a minimal amount of stress.

These are three good ways to get started.

1: IDENTIFY YOUR ASSETS AND DEBTS – Start by creating a list of all your assets (including property). Be sure to note a) when the asset was obtained or the account opened; b) the names on the account or asset; and c) the item’s current value or the account’s cash balance.

If possible, talk with your spouse about how the assets and debts will be allocated. For difficult or strained relationships, an attorney can help facilitate the discussion.

TIP: Create a spreadsheet to list all this information. You can sort it by specific details, quickly add more information as you find it, and easily share it with your attorney by email.

2: SCHEDULE PARENTING TIME NOW – Issues over child visitation schedules  often create long delays in the divorce process. Coming to the divorce with a schedule in place goes a long way toward a quick settlement.

Discuss and know the details of:

  • Each party’s regular parenting time (Monday-Sunday) for both school and summer months.

  • Holiday and vacation parenting time (school holidays, government and religious holidays).

If discussions become challenging, consider hiring a mediator to help resolve these parenting issues.

TIP: Use a blank calendar and draft out the proposed parenting agreement for 24 months to truly get a sense of the parenting time each person will have and then adjust as needed.

3: HIRE AN ATTORNEY – Qualified legal assistance from a Collaborative Attorney or Uncontested Divorce Lawyer will often shorten the overall divorce process. These professionals are trained to help couples work through and come to consensus on difficult issues, and they know how best to approach judges in their local courts.

Bring the information above to the attorney to review and discuss timetables. Cases in DuPage County can be finalized relatively quickly as long as all information is properly shared with an attorney and the other party in the divorce.

My experience in collaborative and uncontested divorce in Illinois has helped many couples to reach a quick divorce settlement. Contact me to discuss your specific situation in more detail.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.