Many married couples stay together “for the sake of the kids” even though they are unhappy in their marriage. However, studies show that children do not benefit from living in a household filled with anger, resentment, or tension. They do, however, thrive when both parents are involved and engaged in their lives. This type of parental relationship can be accomplished even when parents decide to legally end their marriage and divorce. Although co-parenting after divorce can be challenging, an alternative option is a parallel parenting plan, which can provide a shared parenting arrangement that benefits everyone.
Illinois Parenting Time
In Illinois, divorcing parents can determine the allocation of parenting responsibilities if they agree to the terms. Similar to the traditional co-parenting method, parallel parenting involves limited direct contact between the parents. This approach can be ideal in high-conflict divorces where parents have difficulty communicating with each other in a civil manner. If parents choose to try parallel parenting, they may change to a co-parenting model in the future as conflict subsides and they are able to get along better....
The reasons for divorce vary, from infidelity to lack of common interests to substance abuse and domestic violence. Regardless of why a couple decides to part ways, if they have children, the spouses will be somewhat connected for years to come whether they like it or not. Co-parenting can have its challenges, especially during these trying times. “Birdnesting” or “nesting” in a divorce or separation occurs when parents take turns staying in the family home. Rather than making the children travel back and forth between two households, the kids stay put and the parents trade off being in the home for their scheduled parenting time. This type of arrangement can help children cope with the divorce and alleviate some of the stress commonly associated with this major life transition.
In the Children’s Best Interests
According to Illinois divorce law, spouses are allowed to come up with their own agreements in regard to financial and child-related issues, such as spousal support (alimony), parental responsibilities (child custody), and parenting time (visitation). These issues must be officially documented in what is called a parenting plan. In this legally binding document, any decisions made are outlined for both parties to follow once the divorce is final....
Figuring out how to co-parent after your Illinois divorce can be challenging to say the least, especially during a pandemic. Our way of life has changed dramatically since last March when many states issued stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. Non-essential businesses were closed, and students have been e-learning from their homes. Although employees in certain industries may also be able to work from home now, our new normal presents different challenges. For example, parents of younger children might have a hard time monitoring their online activities if they have to participate in teleconferences or Zoom video calls during the day for their jobs. With the upcoming holidays, kids will be on extended breaks from school, so that means divorced parents will likely have to figure out new co-parenting arrangements.
Patience and Cooperation
Learning how to co-parent with an ex-spouse involves a willingness to compromise and be flexible. In some cases, if a child is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19, he or she may have to quarantine at one parent’s house for 10-14 days. This can disrupt an original parenting time schedule. However, for everyone’s health and safety, both parents need to be cooperative and understanding when plans change. In Illinois divorce cases, transporting children between homes is considered “essential travel,” but everyone’s best interests should still be considered, too....
Summer is quickly approaching, and some divorced parents may have vacation plans that include their child. Whether these plans include taking lengthy trips or having children stay with a parent for a whole week instead of a weekend, summer schedules are often quite different than they are during the school year. Parents who share child custody may struggle to address these changing schedules and ensure that they can spend time with their children as planned. To make it easier, here are some tips on what you should and should not do when addressing issues related to summer vacations.
How to Co-Parent in the Summer
There are a variety of ways to make co-parenting easier during the summer months when parents and children may be able to spend more time with each other. During this time, it is important to:
- Plan in advance: If you have any plans with your child that deviate from your parenting plan, you will want to discuss them with your former spouse ahead of time. Ideally, you will be able to work together to come to an agreement about any changes to your parenting time schedules during the summer months while ensuring that the decisions you make will protect your children’s best interests.
- Get your child involved: Divorce can be hard on kids. They may already be adjusting to dividing their time between parents’ homes, and during this time, maintain a consistent routine. No matter how fun a vacation is, it can still be a disruption that could make it harder for your child to cope with the changes that have come with your divorce. To minimize these types of difficulties, involve children in vacation planning by asking them what they would like to do, and be sure they know what to expect. When children are older, you may also need to determine whether they will have any of their own plans, and be sure to consider this when preparing for summer.
- Keep communication open: As you carry out your summer vacation plans, be sure to remain in contact with the other parent, and make sure your child communicates with them regularly. Encourage phone calls and texts so they can stay in touch.
How Not to Co-Parent in the Summer
As you prepare for summer, you may inadvertently take some steps that are not appropriate for the situation. You should do your best to avoid the following mistakes:...
Divorce can be extremely hard on the children involved. That is certainly not a myth. However, there are other myths surrounding divorce and children that are not true, and parents going through the divorce process should be prepared to address concerns about how their children will be affected. Four of these myths, and the truth behind them, are outlined below:
Divorce Is Easier for Younger Children
Divorce is not easy for any child, but some people believe that the younger a child is, the easier the divorce process will be for him or her. This myth seems to stem from the belief that when a child is a toddler, he or she is unable to form sufficient memories, and if a child cannot properly remember a divorce, it cannot cause as much trauma. Unfortunately, this is not true. Fighting and tension between parents can be extremely difficult things for a toddler to deal with, and these conflicts can impact a child’s development. As such, it is important for parents to try to address divorce disputes as amicably as possible when children are involved, regardless of how old those children are.
Each Parent Should Have the Same Rules After Divorce
It is natural for parents to have different approaches to raising their children, both when they are married and after getting divorced. Following divorce, parents often believe that they will need to impose the same rules in each household, but that is not true. Different rules in different households will not harm the mental or emotional health of a child, and in fact, those differences can help the child become more adaptable and learn how to be flexible in different situations....
After getting a divorce as a parent, you and your ex-spouse will typically have to work together to co-parent your children. This can be difficult, particularly if the divorce was bitter or messy, and there are still feelings of resentment. However, it is best if you are able to work together with your ex-spouse as peacefully and respectfully as possible. Not only will everyone benefit from this cooperation, but it can help you demonstrate that you are willing to put your children’s interests first, which may work in your favor if you need to modify the terms of your parenting plan in the future. Here are some ways you can encourage ongoing cooperation between co-parents after getting divorced:
Solve Problems Together
Although you and your ex-spouse have agreed to work together as co-parents, this does not mean that any hurt or anger that built up during the divorce will just go away. However, you will still need to be able to cooperate to meet your children’s needs and address any problems that may arise. When working to resolve these issues, you should try to put your feelings about your former spouse to the side and focus on how the two of you can reach a solution that will provide for your children’s best interests.
Maintain Open Communication
Communication about what is going on in children’s lives is one of the most important factors in successful co-parenting. By keeping your children the focal point of every conversation, the two of you can ensure that you understand their needs and are prepared to address any ongoing concerns. This will also allow you both to remain informed about what is going on in your children’s lives, including any medical or educational matters that you and your ex-spouse both need to be aware of....
Parenting a child under the best of circumstances, when parents are together and united, continually presents challenges that can divide couples if they disagree on the proper response. However, these challenges become markedly more complex following divorce and the division of parenting responsibilities.
Many relationship and situational issues can lead to disputes about childrearing, but one of the most disruptive and pervasive issues that can bring effective parenting to a halt is violence. A recent study published by a professor at the University of Illinois examined how different types of violence affected co-parenting in the first year after divorce.
The findings suggested spouses who experience control-based violence, which tends to be more constant and encompassing, were more likely to have significant co-parenting problems compared with spouses who saw violence based on situations, such as an affair or money problems, who seemed to have more support and cooperation from the other parent....