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Parenting plan modifications during the coronavirus pandemicThe coronavirus pandemic has thrown nearly everyone’s lives into disarray. While most people have had to cope with difficulties related to stay-at-home orders, changing work schedules, or unemployment, many of these adjustments have been particularly hard for parents due to school closures and the need to care for children while working from home. If you are a divorced parent, you might be struggling to balance your responsibilities while also following your court-ordered parenting time schedule, and you may be wondering whether you can make temporary changes to your parenting arrangements to address your needs during this difficult time. 

Temporary Modifications to Parenting Agreements

In most cases, you are allowed to modify your parenting plan temporarily, as long as you and the other parent agree on the changes that you plan to make. Ideally, you’ll want to work together with your ex-spouse and make reasonable accommodations to meet each other’s needs. For instance, if you are working from home while your ex is required to go into the office, you may agree that your kids will stay with you during the day, even if this would not normally be part of your scheduled parenting time.

Even though you’re encouraged to cooperate with your ex during this time and find ways you can make changes that will meet each other’s needs, it’s a good idea to keep a record of your communications and make sure you have a written agreement in place for the temporary modifications you will be making. This can help you avoid problems if disputes arise in the future, and you will be able to show that you acted reasonably and did your best to find solutions that work for everyone.

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St. Charles father’s rights attorneyToday’s fathers are often much more involved in raising their children than those from previous generations. Married couples or unmarried parents are more likely to share in family responsibilities, and in many cases, both partners work full-time jobs, make decisions together, and cooperate on chores and household tasks. Unlike the stereotypical dads of the past who left most child-related duties up to moms, modern fathers will often play a vital role in caring for their children.

Unfortunately, when married parents choose to get a divorce or unmarried parents decide to separate, many dads feel that their role as a parent is minimized, and they may struggle with concerns that they will not be able to continue to be closely involved in their children’s lives. After years of changing diapers, making sure kids are properly fed and clothed, attending children’s activities and doctor’s appointments, helping with homework, and myriad other parental responsibilities, fathers will want to keep up this level of involvement and be the great parent their children deserve.

If you are getting divorced, or if you are an unmarried parent who needs to address the custody of your children, you will want to be sure you take the right steps to protect your father’s rights. By working with a Kane County family law attorney, you can gain a better understanding of your rights as a parent, the decisions you will need to make, and the best ways to reach an outcome that will provide for your children’s best interests. Some of the issues that you may need to consider include:

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Myths about child custody and child support for dadsIt has been a commonly repeated idea for decades that women generally receive custody of children more frequently than men do. There are several reasons why this has been historically true. However, societal perceptions and state laws are both changing, and in most cases, these changes are to the benefit of the children. There is a significant amount of misinformation that persists when discussing the rights of fathers, and it is important to understand why some particularly pervasive myths are just that—myths.

Myth: Fathers Almost Never Get Custody

It depends on the applicable definition of “never,” but generally, this is untrue. The most recent available Census statistics show that fathers represent around one in five custodial parents—an improvement over the 16 percent of custodial parents reported in 1994. However, studies indicate that dads simply do not ask for custody as often as mothers do, and courts generally do not award what is not asked for in that regard.

A Massachusetts study examined 2,100 fathers who asked for custody and pushed aggressively to win it. Of those 2,100, 92 percent either received full or joint custody, with mothers receiving full custody only 7 percent of the time. Another study where 8 percent of fathers asked for custody showed that of that 8 percent, 79 percent received either sole or joint custody (in other words, approximately 6.3 percent of all fathers in the study). 

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dads divorce law parenting agreementEven though divorce can be a difficult and emotional process, parents will usually want to do everything they can to protect their children and make sure their needs will be met both during the divorce process and in the years to come. If you and your ex can agree to work together as co-parents to do what is best for your children, this can help you avoid a great deal of stress and conflict. A well-crafted parenting agreement is key to successful co-parenting, and you will want to make sure your agreement addresses your family’s needs and protects your rights as a father.

Elements of a Good Parenting Agreement

Your parenting agreement, which may also be referred to as a parenting plan, should clearly describe how you and your ex will handle matters related to your children going forward. It should include terms addressing:

  • Legal custody - Your agreement should fully detail how you and your ex will share in making decisions about how your children will be raised. Some states refer to legal custody as the “allocation of parental responsibilities,” and different areas of responsibility may be addressed, such as education, healthcare, and religion. You should be sure your parenting plan specifies each parent’s rights and responsibilities in making these decisions for your children.

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holiday parenting time family law attorneyFor many people, the holiday season is an opportunity to travel to visit with family members or enjoy vacation activities. Divorced parents may make travel plans for the days that their children are out of school, and this can be a great opportunity to make new memories. However, many of these plans have been upended in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you are a single father who is planning to travel with your kids over the holidays, or if you are concerned about how your ex’s travel plans may affect your children’s safety, you should be sure to understand the best ways to address these issues.

Reviewing Your Parenting Agreement

Before making any travel plans, you should be sure to understand your rights and requirements as defined in the parenting agreement created during your divorce. This agreement should specify the days that your children will be spending with you during the holidays, and understanding your parenting time schedule during this time can ensure that you will be able to plan properly. If either you or your ex makes travel arrangements that do not fit into your holiday parenting time schedule, you may agree to make adjustments as needed. By being flexible, you can help your children enjoy their holiday time with both parents while ensuring that you have the time you deserve with them.

Your parenting agreement will also specify any rules that you and your ex must follow when traveling with your children. For example, a parent may be required to notify the other parent before they travel out of state with their children, provide an itinerary for a trip, and relay contact information at different times and locations.

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