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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

When parents get divorced, they cannot just go their separate ways and say goodbye — they will forever be connected by their children and will have to continue communicating with one another until their children reach the age of 18. Co-parenting with one another in the same city can be difficult enough. When one parent moves away, it can pose an entirely new set of challenges related to parenting. Whether you need to create an original parenting plan to facilitate the distance between you and your co-parent or you need to update your existing parenting plan, here are some tips that can help:

  • Coordinate with your co-parent as much as possible. It has been said before, but when it comes to long-distance co-parenting, communication really is key. Ideally, you should have your visitation schedule pre-planned and ready for reference. At a minimum, you should coordinate with your former spouse and determine which holidays and school vacations your child will be spending with each of you.

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DuPage County parenting time lawyerWhen it comes to child custody, the court has one goal: to protect the child’s best interests. To do this, there are a variety of factors that are considered when allocating parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Some of these factors include things such as the level of cooperation between the spouses, the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community, and even the stability of each parent and their ability to facilitate a loving relationship with the other parent. Another factor that has come up in Illinois courts more recently is whether or not a parent’s legal marijuana usage can (or should) affect that parent’s child custody rights.

The Legality of Marijuana in Illinois

Prior to the beginning of 2020, marijuana use was only legal for registered medical marijuana patients. On January 1, 2020, recreational marijuana became legal in the state of Illinois. Under the new law, adults who are over the age of 21 are permitted to purchase and consume marijuana legally. Even though many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, the drug still remains illegal under federal law.

Marijuana Usage and Parenting Time

Within the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, the act that legalized and decriminalized marijuana in Illinois, there is a section entitled “Discrimination Prohibited.” This section specifically states that parents, legal guardians, or any other person who is responsible for the welfare of a child cannot be discriminated against because of their lawful use of marijuana or cannabis products. This means a court cannot limit your parenting time or decision-making responsibilities because of marijuana usage, as long as you use it in a lawful and responsible manner.

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Naperville child custody lawyerFor divorcing couples with children, a parenting plan must be created before you can tie up the loose ends of your divorce and move on with your life. Illinois courts urge parents to create a parenting plan together that contains all of the provisions and stipulations that they wish to abide by once their divorce is finalized. If you do not come up with a parenting plan, or if you are unable to agree upon one, the responsibility then rests on the courts. A judge, along with a team of professionals, will create a parenting plan for your family, but this often results in one or both of the parents being unhappy with the terms of the agreement.

There are certain commonalities that all parenting plans must share, but parents are given a generous amount of freedom in regards to what can be included in a parenting plan. Here are a few things that may not come to mind right away, but are worth consideration for your plan:

  • Religion: This can be a point of contention between parents, especially if the parents are not of the same religion. Since religion is such a personal matter, it is highly recommended that you and your former spouse make the decision about the child’s religious upbringing together. If the court is forced to intervene, they will most likely make a decision based on prior conduct in regards to the child’s religion.

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Naperville holiday parenting time lawyerIn the midst of the holiday season, families across Illinois are planning how to spend time together during Christmas and New Year's. In addition to the vacations surrounding these days, there are plenty of other holidays and special days throughout the year that can be fought over by parents who are no longer married. Parenting plans are required by all Illinois couples who are divorced and have children. These legal plans must contain a parenting time schedule that is followed throughout the year. Also included in the parenting plan is how holidays will be spent between the two parents. The holiday parenting time schedule will usually supersede the normal parenting time schedule, so it is important for you and your ex to agree on one that works for you.

Examples of Holiday Parenting Schedules

There are a few ways that are commonly used to distribute holiday time amongst parents who are divorced. The Illinois Supreme Court has published a sample parenting plan that is accepted in all Illinois courts and provides more than one way to settle holiday parenting time issues. For simplicity, you can choose their premade holiday parenting plan, or you can determine which specific holidays each parent gets to spend with their child. Many parents choose to personalize their holiday parenting plan so they can create an arrangement that both parents agree on. Common holiday parenting time schedules include:

  • Alternating Years: One of the most common ways parents agree upon sharing holidays is by celebrating them on a rotating schedule. For example, if mom gets the kids for Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Halloween in even years, then dad gets to spend those holidays with the children in odd years. In such an arrangement, you are guaranteed to spend time with your child for almost every holiday on a semi-annual basis. 

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Naperville family law attorneyStarting a new life after divorce can be tough for everyone, but for children, the adjustment can be especially challenging. Kids are accustomed to having both parents constantly in their lives and any change can be difficult. They thrive off of stability and permanency, which is why co-parenting arrangements can sometimes be disruptive to children. One alternative solution to the traditional co-parenting structure is called a “nesting” plan. This type of plan does not work for every family situation, but it is an option worth considering.

What is a Nesting Plan?

A nesting plan is a type of alternative co-parenting arrangement in which the children remain in the family home and the parents take turns living in the home with them. This type of arrangement allows children to have minimal disruptions in their everyday lives and continue to live under the same roof at all times. Rather than requiring the children to pack up and move between two households, the parents take on that burden for the benefit of their children. 

Considerations for Nesting Plans

As with anything, there are pros and cons to a nesting plan. Many families believe this alternative arrangement is beneficial because it takes a more child-centered approach to co-parenting. The children remain in the family home longer and continue to see both parents within that home, just not at the same time. Nesting plans are typically temporary, but they provide a secure way for children to transition into life with two unmarried parents.

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