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DuPage County parenting plan attorneysDuring the divorce process, parents have many important decisions to make regarding their children, especially when it comes to their living arrangements. Perhaps the most notable decision is how parenting time will be allocated between the two parents, but there are other important details to figure out as well. Some of these include how parents will handle transportation between homes, as well as traveling with their children.

Including Transportation Provisions in Your Parenting Plan

In Illinois, transportation arrangements for the children between the two parents’ homes are part of the minimum requirements to be included in a parenting plan. While such transportation may require a relatively small time commitment, thoughtful arrangements are crucial in order to ensure smooth exchanges and avoid encroaching on the other parent’s scheduled time. 

One of the most important questions to address is who will be responsible for transporting the children. For example, your plan could state that each parent is responsible for managing transportation at either the beginning or the end of each of their parenting time periods, or that one parent with reliable transportation is responsible for all exchanges. If there has been a history of conflict between you and your former spouse, it may be best for a trusted third party to supervise or manage the children’s transportation. You should also address the location where exchanges should occur. For example, will each parent pick up or drop off the children at the other parent’s home? Or, is it better to plan exchanges at a neutral location such as your children’s school or a point in between each parents’ residences? 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysAs a parent, one of your biggest concerns in the divorce process is likely how the divorce will affect your relationship with your children, especially if they will not be living with you full-time. Fortunately, in most cases the court will try to establish an arrangement that allocates substantial parenting time to both parents, provided that doing so is in the children’s best interests. However, there are circumstances in which parenting time can be restricted, and it is important to understand whether they may apply to your case. 

Reasons for Restricting Parenting Time

The primary reason an Illinois court will order restrictions on parenting time is a finding that time with a parent is likely to put the children’s physical, emotional, mental, or moral health in danger. The decision to restrict parenting time is not taken lightly and requires substantial evidence of dangerous behavior on the part of a parent. Possible behaviors that may be considered to endanger a child’s health include:

  • Abandonment or neglect of the child
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of the child or another person in the household
  • Criminal acts including sex offenses and other violent crimes
  • Substance abuse that interferes with parenting abilities
  • Relationships with other people who pose a danger to the child
  • Attempts to interfere with the other parent’s access to the child

In some cases, restrictions are included in the initial allocation of parenting time established during the divorce process. In other cases, events after the divorce necessitate restrictions or conditions on parenting time. This could be the case if new evidence comes to light, new behavior surfaces, or a parent violates or abuses the parenting time order. 

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Wheaton parental relocation attorneysIf you and your former spouse share children who are still under the age of 18, moving to a new location after the divorce can be a complicated issue. While a parent may have legitimate personal reasons for the move, it is also often necessary from a legal perspective to consider whether the move is in the children’s best interests, as well as how it may affect the children’s relationship with their other parent. If you believe that your ex’s relocation will be detrimental to your family, you may have options to contest it in court.

What is Considered a Parental Relocation in Illinois?

One thing to note is that a move to a new location within a short distance is not considered a relocation under Illinois law. While parenting plans will usually stipulate that a parent who moves will need to notify the other parent of the change in address, these moves are less likely to lead to legal complications, and there are fewer options to contest them.

However, some moves do qualify as a relocation, and they require approval through a defined legal process. All of the following meet the legal definition of a relocation in Illinois:

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DuPage County divorce lawyersRaising children is a challenge under any circumstances, and divorce only introduces further complications. Your children will likely look to you for greater emotional support during this difficult time, and even if you and your former spouse are committed to working together, you are likely to face challenges in coordination. If you and your ex are prone to conflict, co-parenting effectively may seem next to impossible. However, it is possible to establish a productive co-parenting strategy that can reduce stress and lead to a better life for you and your family.

Suggestions for Co-Parenting Successfully

Every co-parenting relationship is different, and some are more conflict-ridden than others, but the following suggestions can help you be a better co-parent under almost any circumstances:

  • Follow your parenting plan. During the divorce process, the court will seek to ensure that your parenting plan, including the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, is created in your children’s best interests. This means that in the months and years after your divorce, following your parenting plan is not only a show of respect to the other parent, but also a way to support your children. Your children will benefit from a consistent routine, which includes a clear schedule of time with each parent as well as a clear plan for transportation between homes and other important events.
  • Find the best way to communicate. Co-parenting effectively with your former spouse means that you will need to communicate on some level. However, the best way to do so depends in large part on your relationship. You and your ex may get along very well, in which case face-to-face or phone communication may be a great option for collaboration in the raising of your children. However, if you struggle to stay out of arguments with your ex, you may instead choose to communicate in writing, which has less of an emotional component.
  • Recognize what you can and cannot control. Despite your best efforts, you will likely find that you cannot fully control your former spouse’s parenting style. If he or she does something differently from how you would have done it, try to let it go as long as it does not harm your children. Instead, focus on controlling your own actions and being the best parent you can be during the time that you have with your children.
  • Keep your kids out of the conflict. One of the worst things you can do as a parent is to pull your children into your conflict with your former spouse. Avoid talking negatively to your kids about their other parent, asking them to convey angry or passive aggressive messages, and other similar behaviors. These actions can seriously damage your children’s relationships with both parents and affect the way that they handle conflict themselves.

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney

If you are looking for advice and assistance with your post-divorce co-parenting, the attorneys at the Davi Law Group can help you put a strong legal foundation in place in the form of a parenting plan that protects your children’s interests. We can also help you with modifications to your parenting plan if you find that there is a need for a change. Contact a Wheaton divorce lawyer today at 630-504-0176 for a free initial consultation.

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Wheaton family law attorneysIf you have been through a divorce, it is understandable that you may want a break from the legal process after working tirelessly to reach a resolution on important decisions including your parenting agreement. However, it is important to realize that circumstances change over time, and what worked for you, your children, and your former spouse at the time of the divorce may not be as effective a few years later. If you find that your situation has changed substantially, it may be best to petition for a modification of your parenting plan.

Modifying Parenting Time in Illinois

Perhaps the most likely element of your parenting plan that may require modification is your parenting time arrangement. As circumstances and preferences change, it may be best to adjust either the distribution of time spent with each parent, the specific schedule of days, or both. You can modify parenting time at any point after your divorce as long as it is in your children’s best interests and you can demonstrate that one or more of the following is true:

  • The circumstances of you, your ex, or your children have changed. Possible examples include a change in your work schedule or your children’s school schedule, a relocation of one or both parents, or a change in your children’s preferences as they get older.
  • The requested modification is consistent with the actual care arrangement for the past six months. This means that in practice, you and your ex have begun to deviate from the original schedule with neither of you objecting.
  • The modification is minor, perhaps involving a simple schedule change or an update to holiday agreements.
  • The modification is necessary based on something that the court was not aware of at the time of the original agreement.
  • Both parents are in agreement on the modification.

Modifying Parental Decision-Making Responsibilities

On the other hand, decision-making responsibilities related to your children’s education, religion, health, and extracurricular activities can usually not be modified for the first two years after your original agreement, unless the modification is necessary to protect the children from harm or dangerous influences. After two years, decision-making responsibilities can be modified for the same reasons as parenting time.

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