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Posted on in Family Law

Four Keys to Co-Parenting After DivorceYou may have filed for divorce in order to free yourself from your spouse, but both of you will remain connected as co-parents to your children. As much as you may dislike each other, you need to cooperate in raising your children. Your parenting agreement lays out the technical terms of how you will share your parental responsibilities, such as a parenting schedule and decision-making powers. On a personal level, there are four keys to making a co-parenting agreement work:

  1. Mutual Respect: You must respect your former spouse’s role as a parent to your children, who love and admire him or her. Speaking poorly of your co-parent around your children can be hurtful to them and ultimately alienate them from you. Complaining about your co-parent or contradicting his or her rules is giving your children permission to disrespect your co-parent. You should keep your opinions about your co-parent private from your children.
  2. Consistency: Your children should have consistent routines and rules in each of your households. Meals and bedtime should follow a familiar schedule. The children should have similar expectations about appropriate behavior with each parent. Consistency helps children adjust to having two homes. When one parent is too lenient with his or her discipline, it undermines the discipline that the other parent is trying to instill.
  3. Communication: You are not parenting in a vacuum. You need to know what is happening with your children when they are with your co-parent. A child may have a problem that requires you to work together. You must be able to talk to your co-parent about your children in a peaceful and constructive manner. Keep the conversations brief and focused on your children. Try communicating by email or text if having a live conversation is too difficult.
  4. Flexibility: Following the rules of your parenting agreement is important, but there are times when it is practical to allow exceptions. Your co-parent may ask to see your children on a different day than normal because of a conflict in his or her schedule. He or she may want to modify the agreement because it is not working well. Being reasonably flexible in your parenting schedule may help you when you need a favor from your co-parent. Most importantly, consider whether your parenting arrangement still works best for your children when presented with a change of circumstances.

Contact a McHenry County Family Law Attorney

It is important for co-parents to make decisions that are in the best interest of their children. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, family law attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you create a parenting agreement and modify it when your children’s needs change. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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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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Crafting a Long-Distance Parenting PlanIf a divorced parent decides to move, he or she can petition to relocate with the child. The court's decision will result in either allowing the child to relocate with one parent or ordering that the child cannot be relocated, even if it means the child will live with the other parent. No matter which parent the child lives with, the parent's relocation alters the existing parenting plan. The parents must return to court to modify the allocation of parental responsibilities, which includes parenting time and decision making. A long-distance parenting plan requires careful consideration of how parental responsibilities are divided and the complexities of travel.

Parenting Time

When divorced parents live near each other, they can each have regular parenting time with their children. Illinois prefers that the children primarily live with one parent, but the other parent may be able to schedule frequent visits. With long-distance parenting plans, parents need to arrange less-regular visits and/or identify times during the year when the children can visit the distant parent for an extended period, such as school breaks and holidays. Though the agreement maintains the distant parent's rights, he or she will likely have a reduced share of parenting time because:

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Negotiating a Parenting Plan During Your DivorceDetermining the allocation of parental responsibilities is often one of the most divisive parts of a divorce. The two sides must determine how they will divide parenting time and decision-making in a way that is in the best interest of their children. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, a judge will decide how to allocate their responsibilities. There are many benefits when divorcing parents can agree on a parenting plan before going to court:

  • They save time and costs associated with court hearings;
  • They better understand their individual needs when creating the plan; and
  • The experience may be less stressful for parents and children than a combative court case.

There are several steps to creating and enacting a parenting plan.

Setting Up Negotiations

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Posted on in Family Law

modifying parenting time, Crystal Lake Family Law AttorneyParenting children with your former spouse can be a challenging experience, especially when the divorce was contentious. The way your spouse wants to parent may differ from your ideal choices, and this can cause legal problems as one or both parents decide to operate outside of the court ordered plan. However, there are steps that a parent can take to avoid disobeying court orders and still protect his or her children.

Modifications to orders granting parenting time are possible; however, in most cases the parents have to wait two years after the original order is entered before seeking modification, unless certain exceptions apply. In order to modify the parenting plan before the two years, the court must find that the child would be endangered mentally, physically, and emotionally under the current plan. If a parent has become unstable or abusive since parenting time was ordered, it would be possible to seek and be granted a modification to the parenting plan before the two years have passed because this kind of behavior may endanger the child.

After the two years have passed, modification may generally be possible if the parent seeking modification can show changed circumstances. Changed circumstances can include the parent's failure to follow the parenting plan that was previously approved or the parent's change in work hours or location requiring the parent to relocate. As with most decisions involving children, the court is supposed to consider the child's best interests in deciding whether or not to order modification. Depending on the age of the child, the child's wishes may also be considered.

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