Chicago LGBTQ+ Parenting Time Attorney
Complicated and emotional decisions about children are often the most difficult part of divorce – for all parents, including LGBTQ+ couples. The legal process requires a mutually agreed upon parenting plan to be submitted to the court. If the parents cannot agree, the court will allocate parenting time (physical custody/visitation) based on their determination of the needs of the child.
There was a time when two women could jointly raise a child from birth and yet, when the couple separated, the non-birth parent had no rights to parenting time. The court considered them “legal strangers” to the child. Once same sex marriage was legalized in Illinois the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 was passed establishing gender neutral guidelines for defining legal parents, and allocating parenting time. The act establishes that a person can be presumed to the parent of a minor child if:
- The child was born while the spouses were in a marriage or civil union
- The child was born within 300 days of the end of the marriage or civil union
- The child was born during a marriage or civil union, but the union was later declared invalid
- After the child’s birth, a person marries the birth mother and the individual consents to being added to the birth certificate
Couples who are not married must show the court evidence of their legal relationship with the child, including birth certificates, adoption, second parent adoption or surrogacy agreements.
Illinois also protects the rights of same sex couples to adopt. Couples can adopt a child jointly. If only one parent has completed a legal adoption, the other is not a legal parent even if they are married. The other parent must complete a second parent adoption to gain parental rights.
Chapter 750 Sec. 602.7. of the Illinois Compiled Statutes outlines the factors the court will take into account in allocating parenting time. Assuming neither parent is deemed unfit it includes the wishes of the parents and the child, parents’ work schedules, previously established patterns of care, relationships with siblings, and distance between parents’ residences.
One factor that might be more significant for children of LGBTQ families is their successful integration with school and community. Finding supportive schools, churches, and community organizations like scouts or clubs can be more difficult for LGBTQ families. Disrupting a child’s participation in a supportive and affirming community via the parenting agreement might not be in a child's best interest. Being LGBTQIA+ is never a factor that should be used to determine parenting time. The statue states:
“In allocating parenting time, the court shall not consider conduct of a parent that does not affect that parent's relationship to the child.”
While this new pattern for parenting and spending time with your child is difficult, it is by no means new or uncommon. Your family is probably familiar with other parents and children who share parenting time. Families who can find a way to communicate clearly and be accountable to their children and co-parents about parenting agreements can make shared time work.
Your parenting time is valuable. If you have concerns about parenting time, work with an attorney who values your family, Nottage and Ward, LLP (312) 332-2915. You need an experienced legal team who specializes in LGBTQ family law and can negotiate both the complicated landscape of the parenting agreement, and the decisions of the court if no agreement is reached.
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Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for
Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for in a very complicated, emotional matter. She has continuously looked out for my best interest and the best interest of my son. She is always prompt in getting back to me and in keeping me well informed about my case.
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