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Crystal Lake parenting plan attorneyA divorce will certainly shake up your home life, but this does not necessarily mean that it will continue to do so over time. With this in mind, it is important to create an agreement that is long-lasting, rather than temporary, especially in situations where children are involved. Everyone needs some sense of stability and routine in their day-to-day lives, even those who thrive under spontaneity, and psychologists believe having a stable routine offers many benefits for children. Parents should do everything possible to offer their children a stable environment when creating a parenting arrangement after their marriage ends.

Steady Routines Promote Future Success

Routine is not just about going to bed at the same time every day or eating dinner together as a family every night. The most important thing you can do for your child is to provide as much stability as possible throughout the day. Psychologists suggest that when a schedule is predictable, children can relax and trust in their environment. Even in a situation where a child visits two homes regularly, the daily routine should not change significantly. The details may be different in each parent’s home, but the routine should remain consistent in each environment. Such routines also include knowing which days and holidays a child may expect to see each parent.

How to Create a Parenting Plan That Works

One of the most important things to remember is that children need significant time with both of their parents to create a bond. Studies show that children who have equal or close to equal amounts of time with each parent go on to have more stability in their lives as adults. Therefore, it is usually in your children’s best interests to make a co-parenting arrangement that prioritizes time with both parents, and maintain it by not skipping visits or shorting the other parent of their allotted parenting time.

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3 Common Divorce-Related Issues Every Father Should UnderstandThree or four decades ago, a mother was typically granted full custody of her children if she and her husband got a divorce. The father would usually be awarded visitation rights, and he may have been able to see his kids every other weekend or possibly a couple of days during the week. In today’s world, attitudes toward parenting have changed. Fathers are more likely to be given equal decision-making responsibility for children, and they have the right to parenting time. While this is usually true, many fathers still feel that they are not treated the same as mothers when it comes to the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. In order to protect fathers’ rights, there are some specific issues that fathers should pay attention to when getting a divorce:

Parenting Rights

In the state of Illinois, the courts encourage divorcing parents to come to an agreement on parenting time and decision-making responsibilities on their own. This can be done through the parents themselves or with help from a mediator. If they are unable to come to an agreement, the court will make decisions for them based on what is in the child’s best interests. 

Both parents are legally entitled to have a reasonable amount of parenting time with their children. If a father played a significant role in raising and caring for children while married, he should be able to continue having this same relationship with them following the divorce. The only reason a court can restrict parenting time is if there is clear evidence that spending time with a parent would endanger the child’s physical, mental, emotional, or moral well-being. 

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Creating a Parenting Plan That Enables CooperationIf you have a high-conflict relationship with your co-parent after your divorce, a well-crafted parenting plan can help you better cooperate in raising your children. Conversely, a poorly crafted parenting plan can create conflict in an amicable co-parenting relationship and make a high-conflict relationship even worse. Your parenting plan will determine important issues such as how you will divide your parenting time and who is able to make decisions about how to raise your children. If you are unsure whether your parenting plan could cause conflict, you can ask the following questions:

  1. Does the Parenting Plan Put Your Children’s Needs First?: You make a parenting plan with your children’s best interests in mind. Parents sometimes make the mistake of thinking that what is best for them is also best for their children. For instance, you may want a parenting schedule that gives you an equal amount of time with your children, but such a schedule may force them to switch between homes several times a week, which can be stressful for them. In this situation, what is best for your children may be different from what is best for you.
  2. Does Your Parenting Schedule Consider Special Situations?: It is rare for divorced parents to stick to the same schedule every week of the year. You may need to deviate from your schedule for holidays, vacations, and other special circumstances that conflict with your normal schedule. Your parenting plan should anticipate special situations by creating an alternate schedule for holidays and vacations and explaining when you are allowed to make a one-time change to your schedule because of an unexpected conflict.
  3. How Clear Are the Instructions in the Plan?: Conflict can happen in a parenting plan when the co-parents disagree on what the plan allows. Who is responsible for dropping off or picking up the kids when they are switching homes? When are you required to get permission before making a decision about your children? Who will pay for expenses that are not covered by child support? If your parenting plan does not clearly answer questions such as this, you should talk to your co-parent about it before the plan is legally approved.

Contact a Crystal Lake, Illinois, Divorce Lawyer

A well-crafted parenting plan should provide a structure for co-parents to follow while allowing some flexibility to make sure that the plan is always serving the children’s best interests. It can be difficult to balance the structure and flexibility, and co-parents with a high-conflict relationship may need more structure in their plan than other parents. A McHenry County divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, will work with you on crafting a strong parenting plan. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

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Why Illinois Uses ‘Allocation of Parental Responsibilities’ Instead of ‘Child Custody’In 2016, Illinois made major changes to its law regarding parents who have divorced or separated. The term “child custody” was replaced with “the allocation of parental responsibilities,” and “visitation” was replaced with “parenting time.” These were more than simply new names for legal terms. They represented a new approach to co-parenting that the state hoped would be better for children. This summer will mark the five-year anniversary of the bill that created these changes being signed into law – making it a good time to revisit what these terms mean and what they are trying to accomplish.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Child custody is a common term in family law statutes across the country and in popular vernacular. In Illinois, the law at one time granted sole or joint custody of the children following a divorce or separation. Illinois changed its laws so it is assumed that both parents will share responsibility for the children, including:

  • Dividing parenting time in a way that is best for the children
  • Determining how the parents will raise the children
  • Defining what decision-making power each parent has and when they must get the other parent’s consent

The word “custody” is often associated with one parent having primary control over the children. Illinois changed the term to “the allocation of parental responsibilities” because it better describes how each parent has rights and responsibilities and an important role in continuing to raise the children. “Custody” is now used to describe when a non-parent assumes responsibility for a child.

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Four Ways to Deal With a Difficult Co-ParentA difficult co-parent is a headache that never quite goes away after your divorce or separation. People who do not get along when together can still have a civil relationship with each other when it comes to taking care of their children. The less-frequent contact helps to keep conflict to a minimum. However, some co-parents seek conflict or have personality flaws that you find infuriating. You have no choice but to try to tolerate your difficult co-parent unless his or her actions are a danger to your children or obstruct your rights as a parent. Here are four ways that a co-parent can aggravate you and how you should respond:

  1. Your Conversations Always End in Arguments: Your co-parent may be naturally irritable and prone towards conflict. Even if you do not intend to have an argument, he or she always finds something to disagree with you about or take offense to. Ideally, you would avoid talking to a person like this, but you need to communicate with each other as co-parents. You should keep your conversations business-like and refuse to respond to provocations. You can suggest that non-urgent communication should be done through email, which will give you time to calm down before you respond to each other.
  2. Your Children Are Being Poisoned Against You: A vindictive former spouse may disparage you in front of your children in hopes of gaining their favor. As tempting as it is, you should not respond in kind by speaking badly about their other parent. Encourage your children to talk with you about their feelings and your relationship. If they mention what their other parent says about you, remind them that you love them without speculating why their other parent is behaving that way.
  3. Your Co-Parent Is Buying Your Children’s Love: The easiest way to grab children’s attention is by spoiling them. Your co-parent may act like there is a constant gift-giving competition. It is not enough for him or her to give nice gifts. His or her gifts need to be bigger and better than yours as a way of saying “I love you more.” Do not let yourself be sucked into this competition. You would be teaching your children that love is defined by material possessions. Instead, teach them the importance of thoughtfulness and caring behind gifts.
  4. Your Co-Parent Does Not Respect Your Parenting Schedule: An irresponsible co-parent may be consistently late in either dropping off or picking up your children. This may be just an annoyance, but it can potentially disrupt your carefully crafted schedule. If it becomes a major problem, you can discuss the issue and offer solutions, such as changing the schedule or transportation responsibilities. If the problem is taking away from your parenting time, you may need to petition a court to enforce your parenting agreement.

Co-Parenting Stress

You must carefully plan your parenting agreement if you know your co-parent will be difficult to get along with. A McHenry County family law attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you create an arrangement that will limit conflict. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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