What Happens After Divorce? Caring for Children
Uncontested Divorce Mediation
Posted July 31, 2019
When two people decide to divorce, the well-being of their children has to be a crucial focus on the process. Chicago divorce mediators and courts agree: the welfare of children comes first in a divorce.
Sometimes, however, divorcing couples can lose sight of what’s best for the children. Divorce can cause painful feelings of rejection, abandonment, jealousy, and fear. You may worry that your children will become more distant than you’d like, or be raised with values you don’t agree with. You may fear not having any choice feedback into the important decisions that surround raising children, such as education or religion. You may worry that the divorce process itself will be a negative experience for your children, affecting family relations for years to come.
In addition, of course, responsible parents can differ about what the needs of children are. Coming to an agreement can be difficult in these circumstances even without negative emotions.
The process of uncontested divorce, however, can work toward parental agreement in the best interests of the child without triggering negative emotions or differences that are hard to reconcile. A Chicago divorce mediator works to ensure that sessions in an uncontested divorce find productive solutions the parents can live with that will help children flourish. While a court process and judgments can lead to recrimination, an uncontested divorce allows each parent to reach a reasonable and calm agreement. Reason and calm promote the children’s welfare.
If you’re contemplating a divorce in Chicago but want to discuss child issues in an uncontested divorce, please call Split Simple today at 312-238-9595.
Here is how family law works in an uncontested divorce in Chicago.
A divorce settlement in Illinois is required by law to include a parenting plan if children are involved. A parenting plan is thus one of the most important documents in a divorce.
In a parenting plan under an uncontested divorce, both parents, with the guidance of a Chicago divorce mediator, agree on a plan that comprehensively lays forth guidelines for all the major decisions to be made raising the children, such as education, healthcare and medical issues, religion, and other primary areas that affect the lives of the children, such as vacation.
A parenting plan is required to cover:
- Who will have custody of the child (now termed, under Illinois law, “allocation of parental responsibilities”)
- What the visitation rights are for the parent who does not have custody
- Guidelines for major decisions, as discussed above
- Method for resolving any future disputes
The plan must also include addresses and contact information for both parents. The approved parenting plan is then submitted for a judge’s approval.
Parenting plans can be modified if it becomes necessary, but it’s a good idea to develop a plan that will need little modification.
Custody of Children
The terms “child custody” and “visitation” were official removed from Illinois law three years ago, and were replaced with the terms “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.”
We realize that many people are more familiar with the earlier terms, which is why we use them. Our Chicago divorce mediators, however, have an excellent understanding of Illinois law, the developments in the field that led to the terminology change, and child development. We can ensure that the parenting arrangement reached in an uncontested divorce is fully consistent with Illinois law.
Parental responsibilities must be based on the child’s best interests. Illinois judges and our Chicago divorce mediators use the following criteria in determining the best interests of the child.
- The child’s wishes, with consideration given for maturity and independence of the child
- The respective amount of time each parent has devoted to childcare responsibilities over the past two years
- The nature of the relationship between the child and each parent
- The distance between where the parents will live and the convenience of the location for the child’s needs
- How willing the parents are to advocate for their child and set aside their own interests
As you can see from this itemization, these issues can be difficult and complex. The possibility of having limited access to your child – or not seeing them at all – can be one of the most emotionally loaded in divorce.
That’s why our Chicago divorce mediators focus on working with both parents to develop solutions that will work and feel equitable. The decisions made must protect the child and allow the parents to feel that the decisions are fair and just for both parents.
The term “child support” refers to the financial support of the child from the parent who does not have custody. It’s important to realize that children are entitled to financial support from each parent under Illinois law. Child support does not, then, preclude financial support from the custodial parent at all; it’s just that term is only used for the non-custodial parent.
Child support is one aspect of the broader parenting arrangements. Chicago divorce mediation sessions must bear in mind that child support as punishment or child support that may erode financial stability will not be productive in maintaining the best interests of the child. The child’s needs must be met.
It can be helpful to know state guidelines about child support when you enter Chicago divorce mediation. Keep in mind that these are guidelines and not absolute mandates. Judges can alter the percentages if they deem it in the best interests of the child (but that is not common).
The Illinois Child Support Guidelines indicate that child support should be set at certain percentages of net income of the non-custodial parent below. If there is one child, the amount is 20 percent. If there are two children, the amount is 28 percent. For three children, the amount is 32 percent. For four children, the amount is 40 percent. Higher percentages are recommended for greater numbers of children.
Child support continues until the child turns 18. It could be at an earlier age if the child marries, becomes a member of the military, obtains a job, or becomes emancipated and can therefore provide their own financial support.
Contact a Divorce Mediation Attorney in Chicago Today
Split Simple’s attorney-mediators are trained and experienced in considering all factors in establishing plans for the best interests of the child, and to make parenting agreements, including custody and child support, fair and equitable.
Studies have shown that children whose parents choose uncontested divorce have better outcomes than children whose parents choose divorce litigation. If you live in Chicago and want to discuss the mediation process, contact Split Simple today for Chicago divorce mediation attorneys at 312-238-9595.Split Simple
Two Prudential Plaza
180 North Stetson Avenue #3500
Chicago, IL 60601