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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.

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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.

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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.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_583437694.jpgWhen two parents get a divorce, a major focal point of their divorce proceedings is often the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. These child custody agreements are designed with the best interest of the children in mind. When parents relocate to another city or move to a different state altogether, the relocation may impact your parenting plan.

Three Steps Involved in Relocation When You Share Child Custody

Each instance of relocation when child custody is involved will have its own set of complexities and specifications. The best way to ensure that you have a complete understanding of your situation is by hiring a family law attorney.

Upon looking at the details of your parenting plan and hearing about your desire to move, a divorce attorney can inform you of how to proceed prior to moving. The county you currently reside in, as well as the distance from your current place of residence to where you plan to move, will also be taken into consideration.

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palatine divorce lawyerWhen Illinois parents file for divorce, they are asked to create a parenting plan. This plan outlines how the parents fulfill parenting obligations as a divorced couple. If the parents can agree on the plan’s provisions, they can create the plan together and submit it to the Court for approval. If they cannot reach an agreement, they can each submit their own separate plan to the Court for approval. If you are a parent thinking about divorce, make sure to avoid these common mistakes when creating your parenting plan.

Mistake #1: Undervaluing the Usefulness of the Parenting Plan

The parenting plan is not just another piece of paperwork to fill out. The plan is an opportunity for divorcing parents to decide in advance how they will raise their children as divorced co-parents. The more you and your spouse figure out now, the less you have to discuss in the future. Furthermore, if a parent fails to comply with the plan’s provisions, the other parent will have the ability to enforce the parenting plan through the Court. Do not underestimate the importance of this document and its usefulness in your co-parenting future.

Mistake #2: Forgetting to Account for Holidays and Special Occasions

A crucial aspect of your parenting plan is the parenting time schedule. Some parents assume that a vague weekly or monthly parenting schedule will suffice. However, failing to account for deviations and special occasions can lead to arguments and misunderstandings. Make sure your plan includes directions for how parents will divide parenting time during holidays, birthdays, school and extracurricular events, summer camp, and any other special occasions.

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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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