Once you have reached the decision to end your marriage, the real work must begin. You and your spouse will need to decide how to divide your property, how to make arrangement for your children, and how to adjust to your new post-divorce lives. Before you can get there, however, one of you will need to start the legal process of divorce by filing a petition for the dissolution of marriage at the county courthouse. Many clients approach us with questions about this, often wondering how important it is to be the one who file for divorce and whether it makes any difference at all.
Most of us know at least a few people who identify as “pet parents.” In fact, many of us are actually pet parents ourselves. The phrase “pet parents,” in this context, is more than a person or a couple who owns companion animals. Pet parents, in general, do not see the relationship as a master-pet dynamic, opting instead for more of a surrogate child situation—even for those pet parents who actually have children of their own as well. For the most part, being a pet parent is a more serious approach to pet ownership than many are willing undertake but there is nothing inherently wrong with it. But, what happens when pet parents get divorced? Could either party ask the court for visitation rights with their beloved four-legged companion?
Depending on the family dynamics, grandparents may find themselves at the mercy of the parents of the grandchildren in question when it comes to the issue of visitation. Under Illinois law, grandparents have a limited right to request court-ordered visitation privileges with their grandchildren. State law also recognizes a parent’s fundamental right to the final decisions regarding how and where their children are raised and who may have access to them while they are minors. From a legal standpoint, however, the rights of both parents and grandparents are always viewed in tandem with what is in the best interest of the child. Situations do arise in which the best interest of the child may need to be decided by a family court.
When a couple who has children together decides to get divorced, they will need to develop a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a document which outlines each parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding the child and serves as the cornerstone on which the couple’s ongoing co-parenting relationships will be built. According to Illinois law there are more than a dozen considerations that must be addressed in a parenting plan including things like the child’s permanent address for the purposes of school enrollment and a parenting time schedule for each parent. There are other, optional elements that can be included in a parenting plan as well, including the right of first refusal. If your parenting plan provides you with the right of first refusal, it is important to understand what that means.