Illinois Child Custody Lawyers
What about Birthdays, Holidays, & School Breaks?
The divorce process can be intense for parents. Some days, it's easy to lose focus on children. To be fair, it is clearly in the kids' interest to make sure mom and dad are each financially and emotionally sound enough to keep all the balls in the air that are required to juggle the minors' lives.
When divorcing parents are focused on broader divorce issues that affect where the kids will live, who will drive them to their activities, and who will pay for everything.
For advice on these complicated issues, contact our Illinois divorce lawyers at Wakenight & Associates, P.C.
Tradition Brings Stability
One aspect of childhood can get overlooked to the child's detriment. For kids, a key to getting through the marital split can be retaining a sense of tradition. Many families do the same things for every birthday, holiday, and school break, and when divorce cuts into these traditional activities, kids can suffer.
A divorcing parent may not understand the depth of how changing family traditions can affect children. In the flurry and stress of negotiating a divorce settlement or dissolving a marriage in court, the provisions for these details in the agreement or court order need to receive the attention they deserve. Asking about what is significant to children can be crucial before the divorce proceeds.
The specifics that become part of the final divorce can include:
- How will children's birthdays be celebrated, with whom, and where?
- Who gets the kids for school breaks? Will traveling and vacations be part of the plan? What about when holidays or birthdays fall during school breaks?
- With which parent will holidays be spent? What if there is religious significance to particular holidays for either family’s side? What about the inclusion of extended family members?
- As the children age, will they have any input and control over the details of how they spend these important times?
How Illinois Visitation Law Matters
The question of where children will be on special days involves custody and visitation, including where will they live and how much will they see each parent.
Visitation is the right of the parent to be allowed time with their child. Illinois statute says that this parent is entitled to reasonable visitation, and the state bestows noncustodial parents with strong visitation rights. Specifically, rights may be denied only if the court believes that visitation time would "endanger seriously the child's physical, mental, moral or emotional health."
If divorcing spouses cannot come to an agreement through negotiation, it will be left to the judge to decide. He or she has wide discretion to create a reasonable schedule for the family and the order is binding unless the judge abuses their discretion, a tough standard to challenge.
Modifying the Divorce Order
Visitation orders can be modified by the Illinois court as circumstances evolve. Either parent may file a motion to modify the provisions but a divorced parent who does not want a child to spend a holiday or break with the other parent as agreed to or ordered by the court must move the court for a modification with plenty of time for resolution.
A parent must take care not to deprive the other parent of previously granted visitation without a legal modification because Illinois recognizes this as petty offense or a Class A misdemeanor. Don't let a last-minute dispute have more negative impact on the kids in an already challenging situation.
Illinois law includes "electronic communication" within its definition of visitation. If one parent is with the child physically for a holiday, birthday or break, part of the family's arrangement could be that the absent parent at least have virtual visitation by having time to talk to the child via a webcam or through another method of electronic communication like cell phone or e-mail.
Many creative solutions exist. Parents may alternate certain events, or particular special times could be spent in one household or the other each year. For example, it may make sense for kids to celebrate a religious holiday that only one parent observes with that parent every year. Answers are as numerous as the number of unique divorcing families.
Skilled Legal Counsel
Issues related to child custody and visitation can be complex, and anyone facing the question of where the children will spend special days in a divorce or separation should get advice from an experienced Illinois family law attorney.
Call us in Cook County, at (708) 480-9651, in DuPage, Kane, or Kendall Counties, at (630) 528-0734, and in Will, Kankakee, Grundy, or South Cook Counties at (815) 458-5660 .