Getting divorced is seldom easy, but getting divorced with a blended family can be complicated and full of legal challenges. Stepchildren, half-children, and adopted children may all be involved. An experienced divorce attorney can be crucial for a fair custody and support settlement.
Custody in Illinois
Joint custody does not mean that children will reside with each parent an equal amount of time. Rather, joint custody means a joint parenting agreement has been reached that details each parent’s rights and responsibilities. Parents must be able to set aside their differences and work together, for the welfare of their children.
Sole custody does not mean that children will not spend any time with the non-custodial parent. Typically the non-custodial parent will have visitation rights. The parent with sole custody can make major decisions affecting the children without consulting the other parent.
Custody matters are complicated when blended families split up. Previous custody orders must be considered and may have to be adjusted. The well-being of the children should be a priority. A divorce attorney can provide details about parenting options and custody issues.
Do Children Have a Voice?
A judge may consider a child’s wishes regarding parenting arrangements. When blended families split, siblings may be affected by previous orders. Judges will review these orders and other factors. These factors include:
- Wishes of all parents involved
- School and community locations
- Relationships with siblings
- Ability of parents to encourage a positive relationship with the other parent
Child Support Issues
Non-custodial parents are required to pay child support. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act lists guidelines usually used in court. Courts may deviate in certain circumstances, including with blended families. Parents may already be making child support payments to a previous spouse.
Child support may still be required when joint custody is awarded. The residential parent maintains the legal residence for the children. Child support is always modifiable and may need to adjust as children’s needs change.
Blended Families Require Communication
1300 new blended families form each day in the U.S. A successful blended family requires co-parenting on an extreme scale, as four parents may be involved. Good communication skills, patience, and tolerance are essential. Everyone must put the children first. When blended families do split, these same dynamics complicate custody and support issues. To ensure that the children’s interests are protected, divorcing parents may consider the advice of a divorce attorney.