Education

A Judge will always have an interest in ensuring the children continue their education and that the parents of those children have the same goal. It should go without saying, but showing an ongoing interest in your child or children’s educational ongoings will never hurt your case. Be sure to follow your child or children’s education closely. Make sure you support their educational goals; ensure they pay attention to their studies and homework while with you at home; and be sure to stay engaged with their school. Attending parent-teacher conferences and keeping in touch with your children’s teachers and their supporting staff will always be looked upon with a favorable light by the Court system.

Living Conditions

A Judge will always take interest in the living environment of your children. “Living environment” can mean several things, but most notably, the Judges will look at whether or not each parent is able to provide a safe and accommodating home for the children. Be sure to keep your home clear of dangerous materials or items. Keep guns locked in safes or in secure places that cannot be reached by children. Keep drugs and alcohol out of reach and sight of your children. Ensure the children’s bedrooms and living areas are well kept and safe from hazards. Always be able to prove that you possess the necessities for your children’s lives – i.e. changing table, beds, bedding, toys, school supplies, seasonably appropriate clothing and anything else your children need to live comfortably.

Past Care

The Courts will always consider which parent has spent the most time and asserted the most effort into the day-to-day care of the children. Obviously, it is difficult to be a working parent and still manage the day-to-day living of your children when you’re not around, but be sure to take the time necessary to provide a caring parental presence in your children’s lives. Both parents should share as equally as possible the raising of their children, if you want to share parenting time equally in the future. With reward comes responsibility. If you seek equal parenting time, you must share equally in the responsibilities of being a parent.

Financial Stability

When determining the best interests of your children, the Judges will certainly consider the financial stability of each parent. This is important both for child support payments from one parent to another and for the ability of either parent to continue to provide for the children while in their custody. Being in a financially stable situation allows the Court to presume you will be able to provide for your children’s daily necessities. It is common for Courts to Order a parent to search for a job if they are capable of working but unemployed or employed in a limited manner. Keep in mind; being jobless does not excuse a parent from providing for their children.

Health Care

Similar to education and being involved in your children’s past care, the Judges will consider the health needs of your children. Judges will consider which parent has participated most in addressing these needs and which parent is most capable of doing so in the future. Attending doctor’s appointments and having an in-depth understanding of your children’s health conditions can be contributing factors in deciding how much time a parent should have with their children in a Joint Parenting Plan.

Endangerment

The concept known as endangerment weighs heavily with the Family Law Courts. Endangerment is the term used for the evaluation of whether or not a child’s mental or physical wellbeing is at jeopardy with one parent or another. Common factors with endangerment include past criminal history, past and present DCFS investigations, and histories of drug and alcohol abuse. There is no assumption that any of these factors necessarily indicate that the children are endangered in a parents home, but these factors and more will be considered by the Court when determining whether endangerment will be a factor in deciding parenting time. If the Court finds that one parent endangers the Children, the Court will find that that parent’s Parenting Time will be restricted. This usually means that the endangering parent will be limited to “supervised” parenting time.

Social Activities

Another factor similar to past care and health care is Social Activities. Social Activities of the children will be taken into consideration when determining the parenting time of both parents. Oftentimes, the Court will look to the parent that participates most in the Children’s Social Activities as a determining factor when deciding which parent has been most involved with the Children’s day-to-day activities. For example, if one parent had a habit of taking the children to and from sporting events and practices, the Court will consider that as an indication that the Parent has regular and consistent involvement with the Child prior to separation. Remember, a parent’s regular involvement with their Children will go a long way toward determining which parent will have the majority of parenting time.

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Helpful questions about family law

How to choose the right divorce lawyer?

Choosing the right divorce lawyer, in our mind, comes down to three factors. First, is this lawyer going to be an aggressive advocate for me? Second, is this lawyer a person I can get along with personally? Third, do I trust this lawyer to communicate with me effectively? If you walk away from an initial consultation with a lawyer answering yes to those three questions, you have likely found the lawyer who is right for you.

Legal work can be extremely time consuming. Your expectations should not necessarily be that your lawyer is someone you can vent to about your personal life, as that would likely result in an unreasonably high bill. But you should expect your lawyer to keep you informed as to the status of your case. You should also expect your lawyer to listen to your wishes and concerns and use those thoughts as a basis for your case. You don’t need to talk to your lawyer everyday, but you should hear from them every other week or so.

Expect the unexpected when it comes to the Court dates. The Court system is based on a first-come-first-serve calendar, when the case is not filed as an emergency. All initial Court dates are determined by the Clerk of the Court, not of the lawyer or client. If you have a lawyer, expect the Judges to want your lawyer to do the talking, unless the Judge asks the client a question directly. You should also expect the Judge to keep the Courtroom as orderly as possible. Judges very much look down on people who speak out of turn. As for dress, the Court does not require a strict dress code, but it is always a good idea to dress professionally to show the Judge that you take the system and their Courtroom seriously.

There is a process in the law referred to as “discovery” that allows a party to a legal proceeding to discover information about the opposing party. In the context of a divorce, “discovery” is primarily used in the form of written questions and written requests for the opposing party to provide documents to the party that is doing the requesting. These are called “interrogatories” and “requests to produce.” During the process, the party answering the questions or requests must provide a written testimony, under oath, that the documents and answers are true and accurate. It is through this process of “discovery” that we are able to learn what assets a party possesses.

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