Divorce is never easy. When there are children involved, deciding the specifics of divorce agreements and settlements can be even more difficult. In 2016 in Illinois, child custody laws will change to reflect parental responsibility instead of custody: As society changes from a traditionally male-dominated workforce, and more and more divorced parents choose joint custody and shared parenting plans, the new Illinois law works to affect the changing societal trends.
When you and your soon to be ex-spouse lay out the groundwork for determining a shared parenting agreement, you will likely come up with two different parenting schedules: One for the school year and one for the summer months. If your divorce is finalized over the summer, it is an especially crucial time to carefully evaluate what your plans will look like when the child is back in school. Taking the time to reconsider the plan once the school year has started is also a good idea, to ensure that both your and your spouse’s needs are being met.
There are three questions you can ask yourself to determine whether or not you have the best parenting plan in place. The first is to evaluate whether or not the agreement sets up realistic expectations. Tensions always run very high during divorce, and oftentimes parents can make unrealistic claims regarding what they will be able to do and unable to do during divorce proceedings when it comes to children. These claims are often made out of anger or pain, and result in childcare becoming an unrealistic burden for one parent.
Another important aspect of a shared parenting plan to reevaluate is whether or not the plan truly reflects the child’s age, desires, and needs. Issues such as child care, geographical distance between parents’ homes, and extracurricular or academic needs may need to be reconsidered as time goes on. If one parent gets a promotion, for example, and thus has to work more hours, the parenting plan may need to be altered. In the same vein, if a child is diagnosed with a learning disability or behavioral issue, it could be worth reconsidering the shared parenting plan.
The third issue to evaluate when looking closely at a shared parenting plan is you and your ex-spouse’s ability to communicate. If you cannot get along well enough to be in the same room at the same time, for example, then a shared parenting plan which requires you to do so may not be the best option. Like reevaluation of a parenting plan for children’s needs, so does it need to be revisited as the relationship between parents changes too.
If you or someone you know is considering divorce and has questions regarding a parenting plan or child custody, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today.