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palatine child custody lawyerFor children, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays are a time of joy, celebration, and memories. Unfortunately, they can also be a time of stress for parents who are divorced or separated. If you are a divorced parent or soon will be, you may be struggling to manage the holiday stress as a co-parent. There is no way to completely avoid parenting stress and conflict this time of year, but you may be able to reduce some of the tension. Here are ten tips to help you handle the holiday season with less stress when co-parenting.

Surviving the Holidays as a Divorced Parent

During fall and winter holidays, the normal routine can be disrupted. Children have a break from school, extended relatives visit from out of town, and events quickly fill up the calendar. All this change can be difficult to navigate as a divorced parent. If you are separated or divorced, consider the following tips for the holiday season:

  • Comply with your parenting plan - As always, adhere to your parenting plan and respect the agreement. If you are in an ongoing battle with your ex-spouse or partner regarding child custody, think twice before making any changes for the holidays without consulting your attorney.
  • Discuss holiday plans early - Open communication between you and your ex is essential at all times, but especially during the holidays. As soon as possible, have a conversation to plan which days the kids will spend with each parent throughout the season.
  • Set boundaries - It is important to establish boundaries for yourself and your ex. Respect each other’s time with the kids, including any extended family who may be visiting. Respect also includes understanding your ex’s boundaries and expectations for the arrangement.
  • Create new traditions - When splitting custody, it can be difficult to maintain older family traditions. Consider creating new ones and sharing them with the kids.
  • Focus on your children - Even though it can be difficult, focus on the needs of your children first. Avoid putting them in the middle of any conflicts you may have with your ex.
  • Talk to your children frequently - Make sure your children feel comfortable talking to you about any worries or concerns they may have about spending time with both parents.
  • Focus on experiences instead of expensive gifts - If you are like many parents getting divorced, money may be tight. Consider low-cost activities like arts and crafts or building a snowman instead of buying more expensive gifts.
  • Be flexible - If possible, be willing to adjust your plans so that both you and your ex can spend holidays with the kids.
  • Be mindful of your emotions - Divorce and co-parenting can be very emotional. Make sure that you take time for yourself, practice self-care, and seek help from a therapist if needed.
  • Let go of resentments - Try to let go of any resentment you may have towards your ex. Doing so can help reduce stress and prevent conflict during the holidays. Above all, remember that although the holiday season may be filled with stress, it is ultimately about spending time with your children and creating lasting memories.

Contact a Palatine Divorce Lawyer

If you are a parent getting divorced, contact our Arlington Heights divorce lawyer to get the legal support and help you need. Call the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. at 847.873.6741 for an initial consultation.


palatine child custody lawyerIllinois Courts presume that it is ideal for a child to have both of his or her parents involved in his or her life. However, this is a rebuttable assumption. Ultimately, the Courts determine all child-related decisions based on what is in the child's best interests. If there is evidence that a parent's involvement in a child's life is harmful or dangerous, the Court may implement parenting time restrictions. Supervised parenting time or supervised visitation is one of the most common types of parenting time restrictions but it is just one of several restrictions the Court may enforce.

Conditions and Limitations on Parenting Time

Illinois law defines a parenting time restriction as any condition placed on a parent's parenting time. Courts only limit parenting time in this manner if the Court finds that unrestricted parenting time would "seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health." 

There are a number of conditions or limitations that the Court may place on parenting time. These include, but are not limited to:


palatine divorce lawyerWhen parents divorce, they rarely walk away from the relationship entirely. Because they share children together, they will be in each other's lives at least until their children are grown. Co-parenting with an ex or soon-to-be-ex is not always easy, but there are steps parents can take to make co-parenting less stressful for everyone involved.

If you are recently divorced or intend to divorce soon, read on to learn some tips and tricks for co-parenting during summer vacation.

Effective Co-Parenting Starts with a Strong Parenting Plan

Divorcing parents in Illinois will create a parenting plan which describes parenting time, parental responsibilities, and other vital matters. Ideally, the parents will be able to agree on the terms of the parenting plan with help from their respective attorneys. However, if the parents cannot agree, they can submit separate parenting plans to the Court, and the Court will determine the best course of action.


palatine child custody lawyerA child’s parents are arguably the most important individuals in his or her life. Consequently, Illinois Courts do not interfere with the parent-child relationship unless there are extreme circumstances. Parents have the right to spend time with their children and be involved in their children’s lives. However, there are situations in which a parent may lose some or all of his or her parental rights. Parental unfitness can take many different forms, but the consequences of being deemed unfit are usually profound.

What is an Unfit Parent?

An unfit parent is incapable or unwilling to provide for a child’s basic needs and keep the child safe. Illinois law specifically states that a parent may be considered unfit if he or she:

  • Abandons the child
  • Neglects the child
  • Mentally, emotionally, or physically abuses the child
  • Has a serious drug or alcohol addiction
  • Has a mental illness that prohibits him or her from carrying out parenting duties
  • Puts the child in a dangerous living environment
  • Is currently incarcerated
  • Is not concerned for the child’s welfare
  • Subjects the child to extreme or repeated cruelty
  • Has been convicted of certain violent criminal offenses

Failure to pay child support is not considered grounds to declare a parent unfit. Parental fitness is assessed on a case-by-case basis. For example, a parent’s incarceration does not automatically make him or her unfit. The Court will consider evidence and testimony from multiple sources before issuing a ruling about a parent’s fitness.


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1931266286.jpg Divorcing spouses with children are subject to a parenting plan that describes the allocation of parental responsibilities and each parent’s right to parenting time. This parenting plan is incorporated into the final divorce decree and becomes a legally binding agreement. Parents cannot withhold parenting time from the other parent or otherwise deviate from the parenting plan. If your child’s other parent is not letting you spend time with your child, it is important to know your rights.

Visitation Abuse in Illinois

Not letting a parent see his or her children in violation of a parenting plan is sometimes called visitation abuse or “abuse of allocated parenting time.” The other parent may claim that the child does not want to see you, “forget” about your parenting time, or refuse to let you pick the child up for your scheduled parenting time.

Parenting time abuse is not mixing up the parenting time schedule once or twice, or making honest mistakes. Abuse of allocated parenting time occurs when a parent is willfully non-compliant.


Introducing The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson

Nicholas W. Richardson is an experienced divorce lawyer and mediator whose comprehensive legal knowledge, commitment to clients and reputation for results bring lasting solutions to your problems.

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