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Creating a Parenting Plan for a Child with Special NeedsFiguring out a parenting plan during your divorce is complicated, but there are additional difficulties if one of your children has special needs. Raising a child with special needs may require dedicating additional resources to accommodate their physical and/or mental disabilities. A parenting plan needs to account for these in its allocation of parental responsibilities and child support. Children with special needs can be more vulnerable when dealing with the changes that come with their parents divorcing.

Parenting Time

There are several factors that you need to consider when creating a parenting time schedule for your special needs child:

  • If your child has physical disabilities, will both parents have a home that can accommodate them?
  • Are both you and your co-parent capable of caring for your special needs child on your own?
  • How difficult will it be to transport your special needs child between homes?
  • How might your special needs child react to changing homes?

You need to divide your parenting time in a way that is best for your child, which sometimes requires them to spend the majority of their time with one parent. Your marital home may have special equipment that helps with your child’s physical needs, and replicating that in a second home may be expensive. If your co-parent is more experienced with caring for your child’s special needs, you have to learn how to be an independent caregiver if you want a schedule that is close to equal parenting time. However, you still might not be able to dedicate as much time to your child if you have longer work hours than your co-parent.

Posted on in Child Custody

Using Provisions to Strengthen Your Parenting PlanYour parenting agreement is the document that determines your rights and responsibilities as a co-parent, such as when the children will be with each parent and who has the authority to make parenting decisions. However, there are many other aspects of parenting that co-parents need to agree on. Adding provisions to your parenting agreement can clarify how you will raise your children and how you will make decisions with your co-parent.

What Are Provisions?

Provisions refer to the terms of a parenting plan that address decision-making responsibilities and parenting time schedules. It is best to wait until you have completed the basic structure of your parenting plan before you start adding additional provisions. Provisions in a parenting agreement are helpful because they can create:

  • Guidelines for how you will raise your children, which creates more consistency between the two homes
  • A system for when and how you will communicate with your co-parent
  • A process for making temporary adjustments to the parenting agreement when circumstances require it

Examples of Provisions

The provisions in your parenting plan can be as specific as you want, as long as they do not violate state parenting laws. Common examples of provisions include:

Posted on in Child Custody

Can Divorce Make You a Better Parent?It is hard to see much bright side to your divorce when it comes to your children. They are justifiably upset about the breakup of your marriage and how that will change their lives. It is difficult to adjust to a shared parenting agreement that requires them to travel between two homes. On an emotional level, they have experienced the dissolution of your marriage first hand and may question the permanence of any relationship, including their relationship with you. If there is a positive for the children, it is that they no longer live in a home environment rife with conflict and tension. There is also a chance that you may become a better parent to them as a result of your divorce.

Attention

Your marriage may have distracted you from your parenting in ways that you did not realize. It is difficult to concentrate on your children when you are worried about your relationship with your spouse and what that may mean for your future. Being a single parent is more work, but you could be a more attentive parent as a result because:

  • Your spouse is no longer competing with your children for your attention;
  • You are responsible for all of the parental responsibilities when the children are with you; and
  • Parenting time is more cherished when it is limited.

Your responsibilities as a single adult may demand your attention at times. You will learn how to manage your time so that you are available to your children when it is their time to be with you.

Posted on in Child Custody

Four Advantages to Being a Single ParentPeople often think of being a single parent as a hardship that both parent and child must overcome. To be sure, it is optimal for children to grow up in a two-parent household. Being a single parent after divorce means no more sharing parental tasks when the children are with you. You have complete responsibility for the children during your parenting time. You will likely have a tighter budget because you are primarily relying on your own income. Your children may have a difficult time adjusting to living in a different home with each parent. You can help yourself through single parenthood by understanding that there are still some advantages:

  1. Your Home Can Be Less Hostile: A bad marriage puts stress on yourself and your children because there is frequent tension that prevents people from relaxing. Simple tasks can become daunting because they start an argument between you and your spouse. You and your co-parent will each be happier apart, which will create a healthier home for you and your children.
  2. Your Children Receive Your Full Attention: When in a bad marriage, your relationship with your spouse distracts you from your children and takes energy away from your parenting. Though you have more work as a single parent, you can focus more of your attention on your children when they are with you. This may eventually make parenting feel easier for you, and your children will definitely benefit from it.
  3. You Have More Control Over Your Parenting: You and your former spouse may have argued about how to raise your children. While it is important to maintain consistent parenting after divorce, you have more control over the specific rules and expectations in your household. You can choose how strict you are with your children’s bedtime, how often you will go out for meals, and what shows are appropriate for them to watch. Your co-parent is not there to undermine your rules.
  4. Your Children Become More Resilient: One of the keys to being a single parent is sharing some responsibility with your children. They can help you with certain household chores, such as washing dishes or taking out the trash. If you cannot afford to give them the same allowance, they may learn to save the money they receive or earn more money by helping neighbors. It is healthy to take on responsibility as a child, as long as it does not interfere with their education or ability to have a happy childhood.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Attorney

Being a successful single parent requires more planning and attention than when you were married. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you create a parenting plan that makes your job more manageable. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Can You Force Your Co-Parent to Take Parenting Time?Disputes over parenting time after a divorce or separation usually involve parents fighting to spend more time with their children or claiming that the other parent is withholding the children. You can ask a court to enforce your parenting schedule if you cannot resolve the issue between each other. What if you have the opposite problem? What if your co-parent will not take the children during his or her scheduled parenting time? Can you force your co-parent to take the children? In this situation, you may need to resolve the issue yourself because you are unlikely to legally compel your co-parent to use his or her parenting time.

Potential Problems

Both parents are required to financially support their children after a divorce, but parenting time is not guaranteed to both parties if it would be against the best interests of the children. You may feel happy to receive more parenting time with your children if your co-parent refuses it. However, the situation is still problematic:

  • You may rely on your co-parent having the children at certain times in order to accommodate your work or personal schedule;
  • Your children may be disappointed that they are not seeing their other parent as expected; and
  • Your co-parent may become unpredictable about when he or she wants to have the children.

Taking on more parenting time may require you to adjust or reduce your work hours, which can affect your income. Just as importantly, your children need regular contact with your co-parent to have a stable and healthy relationship with him or her.

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