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DuPage County family law attorneyOne of the biggest concerns that many parents have during the divorce process is the effect it will have on their children. The irony of this is that the parents themselves have significant control over how their children are affected. Many people think the mere fact that parents are splitting up will be enough to permanently harm a child for life, but studies have shown that the level of conflict parents display to their children is a much more important factor when it comes to determining how much of an effect a divorce has on the children. Children whose parents are constantly in conflict suffer from more negative effects than the children of parents who get along.

Co-Parenting For Your Children’s Best Interests

With this in mind, it is important that you and your spouse keep the conflict to a minimum, especially when around the children. Co-parenting after your divorce can be complicated, especially if your divorce was less than amicable. Here are a few things you can do to help keep the conflict at bay during and after your divorce:

  • Follow your parenting plan. One of the easiest things you can do to reduce the amount of conflict between you and your spouse after your divorce is simply to follow the terms of your parenting plan. Before your divorce is finalized, you and your spouse will be required to submit a parenting plan to the court to be approved by the judge. That plan should contain information about most issues that may arise while co-parenting and ways to cope with those issues.

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Naperville IL family law attorneyIn today’s world, most divorces are settled in some sort of amicable fashion. As the understanding of family, child, and adolescent psychology has evolved in the past couple of decades, family courts have increasingly advocated for couples to settle their issues in agreement with one another, which can lessen the burden on everyone. Unfortunately, however, not everyone is able to do this. Some couples end up in contentious situations that breed resentment that follows them into their post-divorce life.

Child-related issues such as parenting time and parental responsibilities are very emotionally driven topics that are often the cause of disputes after the divorce is final. Sometimes, a parent can take a dispute to the extreme and begin to interfere with the court-ordered parenting plan, which causes even more stress for the family.

Creating a Parenting Plan With Court Intervention

When you get a divorce as a parent in Illinois, one of the things you are required to do prior to finalizing the split is submit a parenting plan to the court. A typical parenting plan contains detailed information about how you and your spouse will parent your child from this point forward. This information will include things such as how parental responsibilities will be allocated to each of you and how parenting time will be distributed. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your parenting agreement, the court will intervene and make the final determination, though this can leave some parents unhappy with the court’s decision.

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Naperville IL parenting time attorneyAfter the divorce process has been initiated, one of the most difficult things for parents to adjust to is the change in their parenting schedules. Instead of seeing and spending time with your child every day, you might only be spending a few days with your child each week. For many parents, this can feel as if they never get to spend enough time with their children. One option that can help a divorced parent spend more time with their children is including a clause known as the right of first refusal in the parenting agreement. An Illinois family law attorney can help you draft a parenting plan that includes this provision.

What is the Right of First Refusal in a Parenting Plan?

The right of first refusal means that when one parent is unable to take care of the child during their scheduled parenting time, they are to first check with the other parent to see if they would like to care for the child before making alternative child care arrangements. The idea behind this is to allow both parents to spend as much time with their children as possible rather than resorting to another option, and in some cases, it may even help parents save on child care costs.

Awarding the Right of First Refusal

As with the parenting time schedule, it is preferred if the parents can agree to a plan for the right of first refusal between themselves. However, if the parents are unable to do so, the judge will determine whether or not awarding the right of first refusal to one or both parents would be in the child’s best interest. To make this determination, the judge would use the same criteria that are used when making decisions on parenting time.

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Naperville IL family law attorneyIn many divorces, the most contentious issues tend to be those involving the children. Both parents are usually concerned with protecting their rights, and it is not uncommon for parents to disagree on issues such as the allocation of parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Even after the dust has settled, these disagreements can be dragged up again and get even more heated when one of the parents requests a modification to the parenting plan because of their intention to relocate with the children. If you are opposed to your former spouse’s relocation, you may have options to prevent it from happening.

Prior Notice of Relocation Must Be Provided

If your ex-spouse wants to move from their current residence to a new residence and take your children with them, they are not always able to do so without your permission. In some cases, a parent’s move is considered a relocation, which requires certain prior documentation and notice to the other parent before the relocation can take place. A notice must be provided to you prior to the relocation if the other parent’s new residence will be:

  • More than 25 miles away from the child’s current residence in Lake, Will, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, or Cook Counties.

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Naperville IL parenting plan lawyerSome of the most contentious issues in a divorce are often the issues that revolve around the children, such as parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Before a couple with children can divorce, they must come to a consensus on all of these issues and put their agreement in writing into what is called a parenting plan. If you and your spouse are able to come up with the agreement on your own, this can be extremely helpful in the long run. Keeping the negotiations between you and your spouse, rather than taking the issue to court, also allows you to personalize your parenting plan and include provisions that are specific to your family’s situation. 

Items to Address in Your Parenting Agreement

Though you should further discuss your parenting plan with an Illinois divorce lawyer, here are a few things you should consider adding to your Illinois parenting plan:

  • Dietary standards for your child: Though it may sound strange, in some cases, one parent may want their child to follow a certain diet. For example, a parent may want their child to follow a vegetarian or gluten-free diet. Including a provision in the parenting plan could help ensure both parents stick to the diet.

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