Tag Archives: parenting time

Why Parenting Time Is Different from VisitationThe terms “parenting time” and “visitation” are sometimes loosely interchanged with each other when discussing the allocation of parental responsibilities after a divorce or separation. When the children spend the majority of their time with one parent, the other parent may feel like they are seeing the children only during weekend visits. However, visitation is different from parenting time, both in legal definition and concept. Saying that your children visit you is demeaning to your relationship with them.

Legal Meaning

Illinois revised its Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to replace the words “child custody” with “the allocation of parental responsibilities.” Parental responsibilities are made up of:

  • Decision-making, which is the right to decide important issues regarding the children; and 
  • Parenting time, which is the regularly scheduled time in which a parent is responsible for caring for the children.

The written agreement that divides these parental responsibilities is called the parenting plan. There is a separate section in the law for visitation, which is defined as the time spent between a child and a nonparent, such as a grandparent, stepparent, sibling, or other designated parties. Nonparents can petition for visitation with a child if they can prove that it is in the best interest of the child or the parent has unreasonably denied them visits.

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Three Reasons Why Children Benefit From Shared ParentingIllinois assumes that both parents in a divorce should share parenting time of their child. This may not mean equal parenting time because courts prefer that one parent has the children for a majority of the time to create more stability. Still, both parents are encouraged to be active in their children’s lives beyond child support and basic obligations. Studies on children of divorce have shown that they benefit when each parent has at least 35 percent of the parenting time. They do better in school and are less likely to have long-lasting emotional issues. There are several reasons why shared parenting is more beneficial to children than when one parent has most or all of the parenting time:

  1. The Children Develop Relationships with Both Parents: Conventional wisdom used to be that children primarily need their mothers when growing up, which left some fathers with limited contact with their children. However, a father is also an important figure in a child’s life, and children who do not develop a close relationship with their father may feel abandoned. To develop a relationship, fathers need more time with their children than a visit every other weekend, especially when the child is young.
  2. The Children Receive More Attention: A single parent cannot replicate the positive effect of having two active parents. The parent has work responsibilities and a limited amount of energy to care for all of the children. A shared parenting plan divides the parental responsibilities so that no one parent has to be responsible for all the children at all times. There are two parents to be attentive to the children’s needs and help them if they are having problems.
  3. The Parents Must Work Together: Being “co-parents” means that you are both responsible for the care and development of your children. You need to communicate with your co-parent about what has happened with your children in his or her absence and come to some consensus on how you will raise your children. While it may be difficult, successful co-parenting creates consistency for your children and sets a good example for them. You both are showing how two adults can co-operate towards a common goal, even when they do not get along.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney

There are several ways that you can divide your parenting time and schedule the days that you have with your children. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you determine the best parenting schedule for your situation. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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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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Work Travel Can Interfere with Parenting TimeA parent’s work commitments can be an important factor when determining the allocation of parental responsibilities. To have a majority of the parenting time, you must show that you are consistently available to care for your children as a single parent. Work travel can affect your availability if it consistently requires you to be out of town. A parent with a heavy travel schedule may have difficulty receiving the share of parental responsibilities that he or she wants during a divorce.

Children’s Best Interest

Before arguing for a majority of the parental responsibilities, you should honestly assess whether you can fulfill that responsibility with your work travel requirements. The primary parent after a divorce is typically the one who is most available to care for the children. It may be necessary for your co-parent to have a majority of the parenting time if your work requires you to frequently stay overnight in another city. Parental responsibilities also include making decisions about how you care for your children. Ideally, your co-parent will consult you on major decisions regarding your children’s health and education. However, a court may give greater decision-making power to the parent who is more often with the children and able to act on those decisions.

Protecting Your Parental Rights

Traveling for work does not need to greatly diminish your parental responsibilities. Your travel schedule may include:

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Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174

 630-584-4800

 1770 Park Street, Suite 205
Naperville IL 60563

 630-364-4046

 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187

 630-407-1777

Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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