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What is Co-Parenting?

Kane County Divorce Attorneys

Kane County Divorce AttorneyCo-parenting is the act of sharing parenting duties with your partner. When a couple who has a child divorces, it is often in the child's best interest to have a continuing relationship with both parents. In order to support these relationships, the child's parents must be able to effectively work together.

In 2016, changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act went into effect that altered how co-parenting agreements are created and maintained after divorces. Terms and ideas like joint and shared custody are gone. In their place, the court now uses the concepts of “parenting time” and “parental responsibilities” to refer to each parent's presence in his or her child's life.

Co-parenting after your divorce is an issue that you should discuss with your attorney and your former partner to ensure that all parties are on the same page. Unless you and your former partner develop a parenting plan on your own through collaboration or mediation sessions, the court will use the set of factors included in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to determine the right parenting time arrangement for your child.

How Does Co-Parenting Benefit Children?

There are many benefits that children receive from co-parenting. Examples of these benefits include:

  • Children have consistent access to both parents, which often means consistent access to two extended families and in some cases, two distinct cultures;
  • By modeling a relationship where a formerly married couple can continue to get along, children are exposed to healthy communication and conflict resolution methods;
  • Each parent can continue to provide his or her unique contribution to the child's life, such as one parent encouraging a certain hobby while the other provides academic enrichment; and
  • Children are not exposed to violence and aggression between their parents, which can cause them to suffer psychological harm or feel that they need to “pick a side” or protect one of their parents.

Illinois' new laws promote co-parenting with their two new concepts, parenting time and parental responsibilities. Parenting time refers to the time that the child spends in each parent's physical presence and parental responsibilities refers to the role that each parent takes to make decisions on the child's behalf, such as decisions about the child's healthcare and his or her religious upbringing. Eliminating the notions of legal and physical custody was done with the intention of eliminating the feeling of winning versus losing in a custody dispute.

How Can I Co-Parent my Child Effectively?

Co-parenting a child effectively requires substantial effort from both parents. Although you might have negative feelings about your former partner and the divorce, you cannot allow these feelings to bleed into how you parent your child together. This can be difficult for some individuals and if you find yourself unable to separate your feelings toward your former partner from your child-related communication with him or her, discuss this issue with a licensed counselor or even a close friend or relative. Recognize and process your emotions in a productive way, rather than ignoring them or bottling them up.

Some ways that you can make co-parenting easier for yourself and your child include:

  • Limit your communication with your former partner to child-related topics, such as your child's schoolwork and extracurricular schedule. Keep these phone calls, text messages, and face-to-face meetings brief and focused;
  • Establish rules that your child will follow in both households. Work together to form and enforce these rules;
  • Make an effort to be cordial with your former spouse's new partner, if applicable. He or she is part of your child's life; and
  • Do not speak badly about your former partner, his or her current partner, the divorce, or any related issues to your child or while in your child's presence. Vent to other adults in private, but keep any discussion with your child neutral.

Work with a Family Attorney in Kane County

Co-parenting can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Successful co-parenting requires a willingness on both parents' part to be flexible and communicate with each other. To learn more about Illinois' laws regarding parenting time and other family issues, contact our team of Kane County family attorneys at Goostree Law Group to schedule your free legal consultation with us today.

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