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Wheaton parenting time attorneysMatters pertaining to children tend to be some of the most sensitive issues in divorce - and rightfully so. The child’s mental and emotional state, academic performance, and future potential are all at risk. Thankfully, studies show that ample time and continued support from each parent can improve the outcome for children of divorce. 

Not sure how to determine how much time each of you should have? Afraid you may be selling yourself (or your child) short? Check out these eight factors and consider them when drafting your Illinois parenting plan for some guidance. Also, learn how a seasoned family law attorney can protect the best interests of both you and your child. 

1. Age and Temperament of the Child

While studies suggest that children of all ages can handle overnight stays away from home, infants and toddlers may struggle to adjust in the beginning. Younger, school-aged children may need a consistent and reliable schedule that minimizes stress and allows them to focus on their studies. Older children may have their own preferences regarding where they will live day-to-day, which should also be considered. However, they may not need the same regularity in their schedules as younger kids, so parents may be able to do more frequent exchanges.

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Illinois parenting time lawyersThe entire country is being advised to practice social distancing and quarantine procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Parents who share children but live in separate households are both concerned and unnerved about what this could mean for their families. Check out these options for divorced, legally separated, and non-wed families parenting in separate households. 

Keeping Visitation Schedules the Same 

Many of the families that have not been affected by the virus are opting to keep their visitation schedule the same for now. Their children continue to transition between homes. As long as nothing changes, and each household practices social distancing or in-home quarantine, this should not be an issue, so long as no one becomes infected. Parents who continue visitation their schedules as they are may want to also develop a plan for handling a positive COVID-19 case within the family. Some things to consider include:

  • Where the child will stay if one or both parents become infected,
  • Who will care for the child if they end up contracting COVID-19, and
  • How the family can still bond if forced to quarantine in separate households. 

Changing Visitation Schedules Under Quarantine

Families under full quarantine (mostly in high-risk areas) may want to consider changing their visitation schedule to reduce the chances of sending the virus to both homes. Incubation for COVID-19 is anywhere from seven to 11 days, so the most prudent schedule would likely be a two-week exchange. Parents can verbally make such an agreement verbally, but it is better to have a legal document in place, just to be safe. Your family law attorney can help. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDivorce can be painful and confusing for any child, but most of them do eventually adjust. In contrast, children with special needs sometimes struggle to comprehend the reason why their family is fracturing. Worse yet, all the changes in their lives may cause them to regress or suffer from mental, emotional, or behavioral problems. Thankfully, parents can help ease the transition for their special needs children by carefully protecting their interests. 

Start with Communication 

When divorcing with a special needs child, communication is critical - and not just with your child. You also need to communicate with your spouse in a healthy, non-combative way. It is also important for you to effectively communicate with your attorney so that they can help you in drafting a parenting plan to suit your child’s specific needs. 

Implement Change Slowly (and Change as Little as Possible) 

Change can be difficult for children with special needs, and depending on the situation, it can lead to regression and other issues. Slow and gradual change can reduce the risk. It may also be possible to eliminate some changes. For example, parents might want to consider bird nesting - or, at the very least, keeping the child in the same home - until they have adjusted to the first set of major changes in their lives. 

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DuPage County parenting time attorneysDivorce can be difficult for children at any time of the year, but the holidays tend to be especially trying. Thankfully, parents can usually mitigate much of the stress, simply by being loving, responsible parents. Need some tangible solutions for your family? Try these tips for keeping everyone (yes, even your ex) happy during the holiday season. 

Make Sacrifices but Avoid Being a Martyr 

Children should never have to make sacrifices for their parents. Instead, it should be the parents making sacrifices for the sake of their kids. Whether it is giving up time with them to allow time with your ex’s family or simply avoiding altercations and arguments when your spouse is being combative, putting in extra effort can go a long way toward ensuring your child feels both happy and loved during this holiday season. Just be sure to avoid the martyr syndrome; your child does not need to know the efforts you have made. Instead, simply let them reap the reward. 

Get Into the Spirit of Giving 

The holiday season is all about giving. So, whether it is allowing your ex to keep the kids on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to avoid an argument (and working it out later) or simply taking your child to choose a gift for their other parent, the more you give, the less stressful the season will be for your child. 

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Wheaton parenting time attorneysThanks to studies and real-life families, shared parenting plans are on the rise. In fact, several states have introduced bills that would make a 50-50 parenting time split the starting point in all divorces - but is this trend appropriate for every family? Consider the following pros and cons of a shared parenting plan, and learn how our seasoned divorce lawyers can help you in deciding whether one may be right for your family. 

What is a Shared Parenting Plan?

Shared parenting plans typically involve a near-equal split of the child’s time. Some families switch off weekly, with one parent having the child for a week and then the other. In other shared parenting plans, the child may switch homes throughout the week, perhaps with one parent taking the beginning of the week (i.e. Sunday through Wednesday) and the other taking the remaining days. The latter plan will typically involve a switch-off, where the child may spend four days with one parent one week, and then three with that same parent on the following week.

The Potential Pros of a Shared Parenting Plan 

At their core, shared parenting plans are designed to ensure the child has ample time with each parent. Studies have shown that this can be highly beneficial for the child’s overall growth and development - and not just during the divorce, but in the years to follow. Families with shared parenting plans also tend to have better communication, overall, because the plan itself requires a great deal of cooperation. Of course, not all parents can communicate in such a way after their divorce, and that can lead to complications down the road. 

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