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custody, Kane County family law attorneyWhen a romantic relationship between adults falls apart, it can be very difficult for each partner to deal with their emotions and move forward with their lives. If the couple has a child together, a tense, difficult dispute regarding child custody—sometimes referred to as parental responsibilities—may, at times, to ensue. Disagreements regarding child custody can turn any such situation very ugly very quickly, but the nastiness is most often between the adults. Sometimes, however, a parent can become completely overwhelmed and the results may be tragic.

Guilty Plea

Last month, a 30-year-old woman from Oceanside, California, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and willful cruelty to a child. The victim was her 21-month-old son who, according to prosecutors, was held down in the bathtub two separate times just a few minutes apart. The first time, court records indicate, the boy lost consciousness, and the second time, he died. Last week, the mother was sentenced to 21 years to life in prison, and she will not be eligible for parole until at least 2035.

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rights, Kane County family law attorneyWhen making decisions regarding a parent’s rights regarding his or her child, Illinois courts are expected to keep the child’s best interest as the top priority. While the desires of the parent do matter, it is up to the court to determine if the parent’s wishes are based on what is best for the child. Such will be the case in a few short weeks when a Bloomington woman is scheduled to appear in McClean County court to request custody—or parental responsibilities as it is now known in Illinois law—of her infant daughter. The complicating factor, however, is that the woman is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence for child endangerment in connection with the beating death of her 3-year-old son in 2011.

Terminating Parental Rights

Earlier this month, state officials filed a request to terminate the parental rights of the woman and her husband regarding the little girl, who will soon be a year old. The woman and her husband contested the state’s motion and a trial date has been set for October. The state’s case is based on the mother’s behavior related to her deceased son, who died in 2013 following multiple beatings at the hands of the woman’s boyfriend at the time. The man—who is not her current husband—was convicted of the boy’s murder and is serving a life sentence.

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parenting time, St. Charles Family Law AttorneyOver the last few months, courts across Illinois have been adjusting to the sweeping family law amendments that were passed last summer and took effect on January 1, 2016. While some of the changes were essentially procedural, others were aimed at improving the way in which parents and the courts approach divorce and child-related concerns. One area that was significantly affected was that regarding responsibilities for a child of divorced, separated, or unmarried parents, once known under the law as child custody. Now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities, the amended law addresses the rights of each parent regarding decision-making for their child and how parenting time decisions are to be made.

Two Parts to Parental Responsibilities

The newly revamped Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has essentially eliminated the phrase “child custody,” as well as the concepts of sole custody and joint custody of a child. These ideas have been replaced by a more personalized approach that determines each parent’s rights and responsibilities based on their own unique circumstances. Parental responsibilities, under the new law, are divided into two primary considerations: significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time.

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jurisdiction, Kane County family law attorneysThe application and enforcement of the law can be very complex in many situations. This can be especially true in cases related to allocated parental responsibilities—formerly child custody—and parenting time, or visitation. One of the fundamental principles of law is the concept of jurisdiction, which refers to the authority that a particular county, state or federal court system maintains over the parties and the subject matter of the case in question. Only a court with appropriate jurisdiction can make decisions and enter orders in accordance with applicable statutes.

In some situations, jurisdiction may be fairly straightforward. For example, if you live in Kane County, and were injured in an accident near your home caused by another resident of Kane County, you probably realize that the Kane County circuit court has jurisdiction over your case, and your claim should be made there. In other cases, however, jurisdiction may not seem quite so clear, at least to the average citizen. One such example can be found in the area of family law. If your parenting plan and parental responsibilities order were entered in Illinois, and you decide to move out of state, which state has continuing jurisdiction over your family’s case?  Fortunately, there are laws in place to address this exact scenario.

Relocation and Substantial Change in Circumstances

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coparenting, Kane County family law attorneysFollowing the divorce or separation between parents, there is not really a right or wrong way to continue cooperative parenting if each parent is invested in the process. Ideally, both parents want to provide what is best for the child, even at their own inconvenience or personal sacrifice. From an outside perspective, most coparenting situations seem to be at least relatively similar: the children stay with one parent for half the time or more, then go to the other’s home to spend time with their other parent. Of course, the allotment of time and scheduling is unique to each family, but the overall structure is fairly standard.

However, there is another available option that is gaining mild popularity in the United States and around the world. It is known as bird’s nest parenting, and it involves the children remaining in one home—usually the marital home—and the parents rotating in and out according to an agreed-upon parenting time schedule.

How It Works

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