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wheaton divorce lawyerWhen a child’s parents are no longer in a relationship with each other, including when married parents get divorced or when unmarried parents have broken up, both parents will often wish to maintain a close relationship with the child. In many cases, parents will share in the allocation of parental responsibilities (commonly known as legal custody), and each parent will have regular parenting time (sometimes referred to as visitation). However, there may be some situations where one parent believes that it would be best for a child not to have a relationship with the other parent. In these cases, parents will need to understand how the law addresses restrictions on parenting time. When addressing these matters in court, a parent will need to show why their wishes regarding parenting time would be in their child’s best interests.

Parental Rights and Parenting Time Restrictions

It is important to understand that parents have the right to regular, reasonable parenting time with their children. Illinois law states that parents are presumed to be fit, and even if parental responsibilities are solely allocated to one parent, the other parent will most likely be able to maintain regular contact with children and have children spend time in their care. However, a family court judge may decide that restrictions on parenting time are appropriate if there is evidence showing that children’s physical, emotional, or moral health would be at risk when a parent exercises their parenting time rights.

While there are a number of reasons why a judge may determine that it would not be in children’s best interests to have unrestricted parenting time with a parent, the most common reasons for restrictions include:

St. Charles IL family law attorneyWhile older children typically understand the concept of divorce, younger children often struggle to grasp how their parents’ divorce will affect their everyday lives. They may not even fully comprehend that divorce means one parent will be living at a different home. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding can make coping with the divorce that much more difficult for the child. If you are considering a divorce, it is important to understand how you can help your child as you and your family go through the divorce process.

Talk to Children’s Health Professionals

A mental health professional, such as a child or family therapist, can offer insight into how your child may cope with the divorce, as well as your child’s level of understanding about the process. They can advise you regarding how to best support your child and stay alert for signs that the child is struggling, and they can also meet with your child to help him or her process feelings about the divorce. Your child’s pediatrician can also help you understand how the divorce may affect the child’s physical health and offer guidance regarding how you can continue to provide for your child’s growth and development needs, including adequate sleep and nutrition.

Check Out Children’s Books on Divorce

The increased prevalence of divorce means there are more resources than ever before for parents. In fact, parents can now find children’s books that address the subject. Such books tend to explain divorce using stories that children can relate to and easily understand. They also focus on the complex feelings that go along with a divorce, such as fear, guilt, and anger. Overall, they can give your child a better grasp of the situation, what is to come, and how he or she can cope.

St. Charles family law attorneyDuring a divorce, each spouse is likely to experience a range of emotions, including grief, anger, regret, and feelings of betrayal. Sadly, the typical divorce process often exacerbates these negative emotions by seemingly placing the divorcing parties on opposite sides. Tempers can flare, and each spouse may focus on what they will walk away with once the divorce process is complete rather than working toward the best possible outcome for both parties.

When you add children into the mix, a contentious situation can become even more difficult, especially for the children who still love both of their parents. In fact, the damage can be so extensive that it carries on into the children’s adult lives. However, this does not have to be your children’s reality. You and your spouse can choose differently in your divorce and take an approach that focuses on your children’s interests.

Creating a Child-Centered Divorce

It is not impossible to create a supportive and protective environment for your children during and after the divorce process. Some parents are able to resolve their differences through alternative dispute resolution and work together to reach an agreement that prioritizes the children’s needs. Even if such an approach does not work for you, and you need to resolve your divorce through litigation, there are still things you can do to keep your children’s needs front and center, including:

St. Charles IL family law attorneyIt is one thing to tell your spouse that you want a divorce. However, telling your children that you and their other parent will be divorcing is another thing altogether. While parents are likely to worry about how their divorce will affect their children, it can actually be the best option for both the adults and children. Rather than experiencing regular conflict and tension between parents, children can benefit from growing up in a less stressful environment. When breaking the news of divorce, parents will want to approach the conversation in a way that helps children understand and prepare for how their lives will change.

Talking to Younger Children

The approach to telling your children that you and your spouse are getting a divorce is going to differ depending on their ages. A younger child may have a harder time understanding what a divorce means, but they could have an easier time adjusting to the change. If your children are far apart in age, you may wish to discuss the divorce with each of them separately. 

There is no definitive guide for telling your child about your divorce. Every family is different, and every child will have a different level of emotional intelligence. That said, here are some tips that may help you talk about getting a divorce with your school-aged children:

St. Charles IL divorce lawyerAfter a divorce, Illinois law permits a parent to move with their children to a new location within 25 miles of their current home in the counties surrounding Chicago, or within 50 miles of their current home anywhere else in the state, in some cases even across state lines. Relocations of a greater distance are sometimes possible with the approval of the court. However, regardless of your intended destination, a move can create significant stress for your children.

Factors to Consider Before Making the Decision to Move

If you are preparing for a divorce and are considering the possibility of moving with your child after the split, it is wise to explore the potential advantages and disadvantages of making yet another big change in the midst of the end of your marriage. On one hand, the idea of starting over and tackling all of the transitions at once can be appealing, but moving directly after the divorce can also trigger some less appealing side effects, especially where the children are concerned. 

Before you commit to moving after your divorce, here are some things to think about: 

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