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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 family law attorneysAlthough divorce can be difficult for all involved parties, children tend to suffer the most. Much of this is due to their position in the situation. They do not have any control or choice; they must simply deal with the fact that their family has fractured and try to adjust. Learn how you can help them through the process by reviewing these three things that your child wants you to know. 

They Need to Express Their Emotions in a Healthy Way 

Parents are often afraid to talk too much about their divorce. Some even go so far as to avoid the subject entirely, perhaps out of fear that their child may not be able to handle the difficult situation. Unfortunately, ignoring the problem does not help the child. If anything, it could cause them to bury their feelings. 

A lot of children also blame themselves for the divorce. As a result, the child may be at risk for depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, and other maladjustment issues. Thankfully, by giving your child a safe space to express and talk about their emotions, you can reduce their risk of such problems. 

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DuPage County parenting time lawyersBack-to-school can be a fun and exciting time for families, but for couples in the midst of a divorce, communication is critical to avoiding arguments. Learn how you and your spouse can foster a positive co-parenting experience during this hectic period with help from the following. 

Get on the Same Page (or as Close as Possible)

When it comes to educational goals, parents need to be on the same page—or at least as close as possible. Common areas of contention involve debates over private versus public school, the district in which the child should attend school, and whether extracurricular activities will be covered by child support, or if each parent will contribute to the cost of their own volition. 

Remember, at the end of the day, what you and your spouse really want is to provide the best possible education for your child, at a cost that each of you can reasonably afford. Also, keep in mind that you may spend a great deal of time, negotiating an arrangement that works for all involved parties. 

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Wheaton parenting time lawyersThe process of divorce can be messy, especially when children are involved. Fueled by a desire to ease the transition for their children, many parents are turning to “birdnesting,” a process in which the children stay in the family home and the parents take turns living there. Some say this gives children a more stable environment while the parents trudge through the legal process of divorce, but does it really work? 

Data Regarding Birdnesting is Limited 

Child development experts, healthcare professionals, psychologists, and other child specialists have been compiling and examining data on the impact that divorce has on children for decades now. Because of that, we now know that divorce is not necessarily what hurts children as much as it is the nature of the proceedings. Yet, when it comes to birdnesting, data is still sorely lacking. Quite simply, this divorce strategy has not been around long enough to determine, for sure, that it is beneficial to children during the divorce process. 

Many Families Swear by the Birdnesting Method

Although the birdnesting process lacks any hard data, many families are singing its praises. They claim that their children seem to be more grounded, even if they themselves are struggling to cope with the process. Many of these families also continue on with their regular traditions, such as family dinner nights. These families claim that their children seem to feel more secure in the love that both parents have with them. Moreover, parents say that their birdnesting arrangement is a strong jumping point for the co-parenting relationship ahead. 

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DuPage County parenting time lawyersGoing through a divorce is hard on parents, but it can be especially difficult for children. They are experiencing a range of emotions, and they might not understand how to deal with those emotions effectively. Reading books to your young children can help them to see that they are not alone, and what they are feeling is normal. Books can also show children how to deal with and express complex emotions. The following books would be a great place to start: 

It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear, by Vicki Lansky

This sweet story tells of a young bear cub whose parents are getting divorced. Koko Bear goes through a range of emotions, including anger, guilt, sadness, and confusion. The best part of the book is that it offers advice to parents on how to help children with these emotions. 

My Family’s Changing, by Pat Thomas

A sweet little picture book that tells about how divorce affects families. It has a “What About You” section that gives parents a number of questions that parents can ask their children. Ultimately, answering these questions can help the child to better understand and express their feelings. 

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Wheaton parenting time attorneysWhile some divorcing couples fight and argue until the bitter end, more and more parents are striving for an amicable end to their marriage. One might even go say that the decision to “consciously uncouple” has become somewhat of a trend in divorce. There are even “new” parenting time plans being used by well-meaning parents. One such example is the “bird-nesting” arrangement. 

Is this type of parenting time plan a positive one for kids, or is it merely a trend? More importantly, could this type of agreement result in unnecessary harm for children of divorce? The following examines both sides of a bird-nesting divorce, and it explains how you can determine if it may be a suitable parenting time solution for your family. 

What is a Bird-Nesting Divorce?

When most parents divorce, one typically moves out of the house. The other may soon follow, or they may opt to keep the family home. In either case, the children may be shuffled back and forth between the two homes. In the midst of all the changes occurring in their lives, such arrangements can be daunting for children of divorce. It can also amp up the discomfort they feel while trying to adjust to their “new life.” 

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Wheaton family law attorneysChildren often feel the pain of a divorce, no matter what time of year it is, but the holiday season can be especially difficult for those who are trying to adjust to a new way of life. Days previously spent together, happily planning family events, wrapping gifts, or attending holiday parties together can become a sad reminder of all that the child has lost. Not all is lost, however. In fact, parents can help their child find and experience joy during the holidays, even if they are in the throes of nasty divorce. Best of all, divorcing parents can use the following co-parenting strategies, long after the decorations have been packed away, as these tactics can benefit a child of divorce, all year-round. 

Focus on Your Child Instead of Your Ex-Spouse 

Parents are encouraged to focus their energy on their child, rather than their ex-spouse, during the divorce process. Concerns over your ex’s personal life, fighting over parenting matters or marital assets, and worrying about whether your child misses you while spending time with their other parent can hurt more than just you and your spouse; such behaviors can also cause your child to feel as though they are trapped in the middle of the divorce, or that they must “choose sides.” Focus on celebrating your child’s time with their other parent, keep conversations about the divorce private, and focus on rebuilding and reinventing your own life and not only are you likely to be happier, but your child is likely to be as well. 

Consider Using Neutral Ground for Family Traditions

Family traditions do not have to fall completely to the wayside, just because you are divorcing your spouse, but if spending a few hours alone with them in the presence of your child does not feel like a possibility, you may be at a loss for how to move forward. Some parents choose to continue their usual family traditions on neutral ground. For example, if you typically open gifts together on Christmas morning, you might consider if it would be possible to meet and open gifts at a family member’s house. Changing traditions in this way not only allows your child to share important moments with both parents, but it shows your child that you and your ex-spouse are willing to work together as a cohesive parenting team, rather than sworn enemies. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhile some couples are able to completely end their relationship with a divorce, others must continue to interact with one another because of the children they share. This new relationship, a process that is more commonly referred to as co-parenting, continues (at least) until the child turns of age. How you navigate it - not just during the divorce, but long after - can make a massive difference in how your child adjusts to the new structure of their family. Increase your chances of success by using these five tips for successful co-parenting, and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can help improve the outcome in your Illinois divorce. 

1. Keep Your Child Out of the Divorce 

Though children are inevitably affected by the divorce of their parents, they should not be privy to all the details of the case. It is a personal and financial matter between adults who wish to end their relationship. The child’s relationship with each parent usually continues, however, so long as it is in their best interest (which it usually is). Allowing them to overhear details could taint the child's perception of the other parent, and that could ultimately create maladjustment issues for them. Alternatively, if you lean on your child and overshare details with them, you could potentially harm your child’s relationship with not just the other parent, but yourself as well. Avoid such issues by ensuring you keep your child out of the divorce as much as possible. 

Do not argue with your spouse when your child is nearby, avoid phone conversations when your child is around, and be sure to make sure your child is not within earshot when speaking to friends and family about the divorce. If asked directly about the divorce, be honest with your child but only share as much information as necessary. 

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Wheaton child custody lawyersParties who go through a divorce often attend therapy or join a support group to help them cope with the process, but children rarely go through the same type of counseling because they are seen as “resilient.” Alternatively, parents may assume that their child is not suffering any ill effects from the divorce because they are not displaying any symptoms at that time. Sadly, this may not be the case. Learn more about how divorce counseling can help reduce the chances of maladjustment in children experiencing divorce, and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can further minimize their risks. 

Kids and Divorce - Understanding the Risks

Although it is true that many children do eventually recover from the emotional trauma of divorce, and only a small percentage suffer serious ill effects, there are some pretty significant risks that parents should know about. Perhaps the most notable is the risk of juvenile delinquency among children of divorce, which can impact children of almost any age and even years after the divorce has ended. Many children also suffer academically, and they may withdraw from their social circles or stop participating in extracurricular activities. Studies also suggest that children may be at an increased risk of relationship issues later in life, and their immune system may take a serious hit because of the stress, which can make them more prone to illness as an adult. 

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Illinois parenting time lawyersDivorce can negatively impact all involved parties, but children tend to be at the greatest risk for long-term complications and maladjustment. Part of this is due to their lack of control in the situation, but there are also other factors that can influence their ability to cope with divorce (i.e. a history of abuse or neglect, parental alienation, developmental disabilities, etc.). Thankfully, parents can mitigate many of the risks by making intentional efforts to safeguard their child’s best interests during and after the divorce process. Learn more on how to effectively do this while parenting in separate homes, and discover how the assistance of a seasoned divorce attorney can help to improve the final outcome of your case. 

Allowing Your Child to Love Both Parents

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes that parents make in divorce is they get jealous over the time that their child spends with their former spouse. Alternatively, a parent may be so emotionally distraught that they feel they “need” their child around to be okay with their new way of life. Unfortunately, both scenarios (as well as any others that may hinder your child’s ability to freely love both of their parents) can cause permanent damage to your child’s well-being. 

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Wheaton family law attorneysWhile even happily married parents can disagree over the best interests of their child, those who are going through a divorce are far more likely to argue excessively over the matter. Sometimes this is because there truly is a risk to the child’s well-being, but other times, it can be related to a vindictive or alienating spouse. Learn more about what happens in these situations, and discover how a seasoned divorce lawyer can help you mitigate against such issues. 

Parents Disagree Over Child’s Football Career

In an unprecedented Pennsylvania divorce case, two parents are fighting over whether their son should be allowed to continue his football career. At age 17, he has already suffered three previous concussions. His mother has not questioned their son’s doctors, who say there is no reason why he cannot continue playing. His father says he is concerned that continuing to play could cause severe permanent damage. He is filing suit against the mother as a way to advocate for his son, but he fears that his concerns will be dismissed. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysOnce the decision to divorce has been made, people often get excited about the future. Some are even ready to search for love. Relationship experts caution against moving too fast in the dating world if you have children, however. Learn more about why and discover how an experienced divorce lawyer can help to ease the stress of the divorce process for your entire family in the following sections. 

Protecting the Best Interests of Children in Divorce

While divorce can be a painful process for all involved parties, children are typically at the greatest risk for long-term effects. Part of this is due to their position in the divorce (invariably caught in the middle unless the parents strive for and successfully implement some amicable co-parenting strategies and techniques), but there are other factors as well. 

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Illinois parenting plan lawyersWhen parents file for divorce, they are required to complete a parenting plan that outlines their wishes on parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Of course, since every family is unique, each parenting plan is (and should be) different. However, these variances in needs, desires, and circumstances can make what sounds like a straightforward process rather complicated. Learn how to make the most of your parenting plan by adopting some creative parenting plan solutions that may address your family’s unique needs.

Consider Your Child’s Age

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes that parents make when designing their parenting plan is not taking their child’s age, activities, or personality into account – yet these factors can greatly influence their specific needs. For example, it might make sense for an infant who has spent most of their life with a stay-at-home parent to have more parenting time with that individual. However, child mental health professionals typically recommend more frequent transitions for extremely young children, as they need a great deal of time with both parents to ensure proper bonding. Depending on your situation, a two day stay with one parent, a two day stay with the other parent, and three days back with the first may be appropriate until the child is a bit older. At that point, the family may want to consider going to a 2-2-5 parenting arrangement.

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Illinois parenting time lawyersAlthough divorce can negatively impact all involved parties, children tend to be the most vulnerable. In fact, studies have shown that children may experience behavioral, mental, and emotional issues during a divorce, and some of those effects can carry on into adulthood. Thankfully, parents can mitigate the potential damage with compassion, empathy, and few tried and true tips for helping children cope. Learn more about them, and discover how an experienced divorce attorney can improve the outcome for you and your child during an Illinois divorce.

Be Empathetic to Your Child’s Position and Feelings

Part of the reason that children struggle so much with divorce is that they are powerless in the situation. They have no choice; they can only cope and eventually accept. To complicate matters even further, children rarely have any advance knowledge that divorce is on the horizon, so the news may leave them feeling like their entire life has fallen apart, and all in a matter of moments. Also, because children may not have a clear understanding of divorce, they may think that they can “fix” the issue, or they may blame themselves. Some also fear that their relationships with one or both parents may suffer, or they may be afraid of the changes. Be empathetic to their position and feelings, and do your best to comfort them when it is needed. Be clear but empathetic about how life will change. 

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DuPage County domestic violence lawyersDomestic violence in divorce is more common than most people realize, yet there is still little statistical information on the challenges that victims face after leaving their marriage. For example, experts have long known that victims and their children are at risk for heightened violence after leaving the relationship, but they questioned whether the type of abuse may be an influencing factor in the severity or frequency of such issues.

There is also little evidence on how co-parenting with an abuser may affect the victim. Instead, the focus is typically placed on the influence that an abuser may have the child (whether positive or negative). While this is not just expected, but also typically what is best for the child, there are scenarios in which that may not be the case. One prime example might be if the continued contact places the mother in serious physical danger and the anxiety of it is negatively affecting the child. In such situations, an appropriate strategy may be needed.

Type of Abuse Can Impact Co-Parenting

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DuPage County family law attorneysAs most adults know, happy endings are less common in real life than in storybooks, and even when one does come, it rarely looks quite like you envision. The Disney Channel is reflecting this in a new television series, Raven’s Home, a follow-up to the old hit show, That’s So Raven. Their goal? To show that divorce can be scary, especially for kids, but lots of families get through it, and some are stronger and better for it in the end.

Strong and Successful Co-Parenting

Raven and Devon were high school sweethearts, and they were attempting to make a long-distance relationship work when the original show ended. Now they have twin girls, have recently gone through a divorce, and everyone is trying to find their new version of “normal.”

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parenting classIf you have been ordered to take a parenting class by a judge, it does not mean anyone thinks you are a bad parent.  In Illinois, every person with a minor child who is involved in a divorce, custody, visitation, or paternity case is required by the Illinois Supreme Court to participate in a parenting class. If the thought of taking a class on parenting skills sounds intimidating, hopefully this quick overview of the process will help ease your concern.

The Caring, Coping and Children Program (CCC)

In DuPage County, the mandatory in-class parenting class that may be ordered by the court is called the Caring, Coping and Children Program (CCC). The CCC class is a one-time, four-hour seminar designed to build and enhance not only parent/child relationships, but also co-parent relationships. According to the Family Center page of DuPage County’s website, the course “encourages parents to develop a way to relate to each other that keeps children out of conflict” and “emphasizes the need for parents to set aside personal differences in order to provide the healthiest environment for children.”

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Divorce Support OnlineWhen a family goes through a divorce, individual family members may reach out to others for support and guidance. Oftentimes, this may involve joining a support group or educational class about the process of divorce and issues that may need to be addressed during a divorce with children. It is likely not surprising that many people may turn to the Internet in search of such a group in today’s tech-savvy world. A recent article discussed the prevalence of online support classes and how beneficial such classes are to those who participate in them. Divorce Classes Some version of support or educational classes are often required by the court and must be completed by parents who are going through a divorce or who are otherwise addressing child custody issues. Many states, including Illinois, require proof of the completion of such a class before a divorce can be granted. Some of these classes, often called “co-parenting” classes, may be available online. Recent research findings suggest that despite the effectiveness of making the classes available online, the material contained in these programs is often too general to address the specific needs of many participants. While a parent must participate in these mandated classes, they should be aware a more tailored approach may benefit them and their family more as they navigate the significant changes divorce will bring. It is especially important for parents to seek out more unique approaches if their family has dealt with issues like addiction or abuse during the marriage or divorce. A More Specialized Approach The article points out that there is no “cookie-cutter” divorcing couple, and the programming of co-parenting classes should reflect that fact. Some researchers suggest online divorce support classes be programmed with a core curriculum for all families to follow. Offering several topic alternatives during the rest of the program will allow families to take advantage of choosing topics based on their needs or specific situation. The online forum for class offerings makes this specialization possible. Currently, many online programs contain a component heavily focused on the parents’ communication with the child. Some topics online programs cover include co-parenting, the impact divorce and the divorcing couple’s behavior could have on the child, and coping strategies. All of this information is certainly useful for parents and relevant to their children, but the new research suggests it could be beneficial to enhance the portion of adult-focused content provided in the classes. This could include content that helps the parents address their own emotional needs and resolve conflict with their ex-spouse, in addition to topics like cohabitation, remarriage, and blended families. Divorce Attorney If you are going through a divorce, hiring an experienced family law attorney can help you navigate this difficult time in addition to helping you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. Contact the DuPage County family law attorneys at the Davi Law Group, LLC to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter. We have offices located in Warrenville, Wheaton, and Chicago.

Posted on in Divorce

co-parenting, divorce, children of divorce, life after divorce, Illinois divorce lawyerWhile a divorce decree may signal the end of the road for you and your ex-spouse as a couple, you will still remain in each other’s lives if there are children involved. Just because the marriage has been dissolved does not relieve either party of their parenting responsibility. Like it or not, there will still be shared parenting responsibilities with an ex-spouse and it is in the children’s best interest for their parents to work together amicably and efficiently.

Tips for Co-Parenting with an Ex-Spouse

It may be a challenge for parents to put personal issues and feelings aside to form a cordial relationship with their ex-spouse for the benefit of their shared children. However, divorced parents should look at this as a new start and always put their children’s need before their own.

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