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Kane County family lawyerWhile fathers have always played an important role in the upbringing and development of children, they have not always been treated as such by the courts. This was often due to the assignment of traditional gender roles. Further, it was originally thought that the mother was more critical than the father was in the child’s early years. Yet, as time passed, fathers began to gain important recognition in the lives of their children. The composition of families also started to change. Now, there are fathers who stay home with their children while the mothers work outside of the home. Does this necessarily affect the allocation of parental responsibilities or assignment of parenting time in divorce though?

How Child-Related Matters Are Determined

In Illinois, divorcing parents are encouraged to negotiate an agreement regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and the parenting time details of their case. Generally, this offers numerous benefits for families, including the freedom to create a parenting plan that is tailored to meet their family’s specific needs. For example, if the couple feels the child and family would benefit most from the father receiving a greater allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time because he works from home, they could create and agree upon a parenting plan that reflects this decision.

Not all divorcing couples are able to agree upon child-related matters, however. Further, not all families should attempt direct negotiations, such as in situations involving domestic violence. In these cases, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time are decided by the courts. To make this determination, the judge will look at a number of factors to determine the best interests of the child, including:

St. Charles family law attorneyWhen you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, there are a large number of decisions that need to be made about the various areas of your family’s lives that will be affected by your split. Perhaps most important for parents of young children is determining how to allocate parental responsibilities. A divorce can be a time of uncertainty for your children, but a strong parenting plan will help them succeed and ensure that both parents play an active role in their lives after the divorce.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

parenting plan is an agreement between parents detailing how their children will be cared for after the divorce. This plan is an official part of the divorce decree, and it can help make the transition into post-divorce life as seamless as possible for a child as he or she adjusts to living in two homes and dividing time between parents.

A parenting plan should cover parenting time (visitation) schedules, specify how decisions about the health and well-being of the child will be made, and address any special circumstances that suit your family’s unique needs. Here are some tips for creating a successful parenting plan:

Kane County parenting time attorneyAccording to recent estimates, there are almost 4 million divorced parents in the U.S. today. For such parents, the winter holiday season can be particularly tough to manage, as extended family members often travel great distances to celebrate and to see the children. While far fewer families are likely to travel this year compared to previous years, the holidays are still likely to be challenging for parents who share parental responsibilities.

The first thing you should keep in mind is that, no matter what you do, you will not be able to please everyone. Someone along the way is likely to feel at least a little slighted or disappointed about how your arrangements play out. However, with a little planning and a commitment to being flexible, you can enjoy a happy holiday as a divorced parent.

Take Proactive Steps

Planning ahead is key in making holiday parenting time arrangements. If you and your former partner have a parenting plan in place that specifies where your child will spend which holidays, it is important to be aware of what your plan says for this year. If you are not sure, review your plan and be certain. Your parenting agreement might give you the freedom to set up holiday plans each year by discussing them with your child’s other parent. Once you have established who will have parenting time and when, you can begin planning your holiday visits and other activities. This includes video visits and other arrangements made necessary by the COVID-19 health crisis.

Kane County child custody lawyerWhile parenting after a divorce or a breakup of unmarried parents will nearly always be challenging, your child will benefit from determined cooperation between you and your former partner. Parents have long been permitted to develop their own agreements regarding child custody—as long as they promoted the best interests of the child—however, the law in Illinois was recently amended regarding child custody and parenting concerns. Today, divorced or unmarried parents are not only allowed to create a parenting plan, but they are fully expected by the court to do so. One element that must be considered in drafting a parenting plan is each parent’s right of first refusal and whether such rights are appropriate for a particular situation.

Extra Parenting Time

At some point, all parents will need someone to watch their children. This, as you might expect, may be frustrating at times for a parent whose time with his or her child is already limited due to a divorce. On the other hand, a parent in that situation may also be looking for additional ways to participate in the child’s life. Including the right of first refusal in your parenting plan could directly address both concerns.

You and your child’s other parent may agree that if either of you ever needs someone to watch your child during your respective scheduled parenting time, you will first contact each other to offer the opportunity. For example, if your parenting time is scheduled for a certain weekend, but you are required to leave town for work, your agreement could require you to ask the other parent if he or she would like extra time with your child before finding someone else to watch your child.

Does Your Child Need Therapy to Cope with Your Divorce?It is hard to predict how a child will react to divorce, but parents should prepare for a difficult transition period. Your child’s reaction will partially depend on the environment you create for them. A supportive and caring environment should help your child, while exposure to divorce conflict could cause further trauma. Your child’s personality is another important factor in their reaction. Some children are more prone to depression and anxiety than others. Child therapy is an option you have if your child is struggling to adjust to the divorce, but how do you know whether therapy is right for your child?

Signs That Therapy May Help

Just because your child has an emotional outburst does not mean you should immediately book an appointment with a child therapist. Being upset is a natural reaction for children during divorce, and some children can process their emotions on their own if given time and care from their parents. If your child’s negative behavior persists or grows worse, then it may be time to seek outside help. For instance, your child may:

  • Continue to show signs of depression, anger, or anxiety
  • Regress to immature behavior for their age
  • Become more attached to you or your co-parent
  • Have trouble concentrating on or show a lack of interest in schoolwork or other activities
  • Become less communicative and more withdrawn in their home life

If you think your child may need therapy, you need to talk to your co-parent about it before you take action. Starting therapy is a major healthcare decision, and your parenting agreement may require consent from both parents. At the very least, this is a decision your co-parent should be aware of.

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