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Will County divorce lawyerFor both parents and children, a divided parenting time schedule is one of the most difficult adjustments to make after a divorce. While Illinois courts tend to prefer arrangements that allow both parents to spend time with their children, this still means that each parent will spend significant time away from them. In many cases, the parenting time balance is at least slightly skewed toward one parent, and this can make the situation even more difficult for the parent with a lesser share.

If you have been granted less parenting time in your divorce resolution, it does not necessarily mean that you are a lesser parent. Often, such an arrangement is simply best for your children so as to provide stability and minimize interruptions to their routine. While maintaining your relationships with your kids under these circumstances may require a little more effort, it is certainly possible.

Keeping Your Relationships Strong

Here are some suggestions that can help you maintain a strong bond with your children, even if you do not see them as often:

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Will County family law attorneyFor divorced and unmarried parents in Illinois, a parenting plan is crucial to establish the terms of the co-parenting relationship and ensure that the children’s best interests are protected. Like many other family law orders, the terms of a parenting plan are legally binding once they are approved by the court. Parents should be sure to abide by them, both for their children’s sake and in order to avoid legal consequences. If your child’s other parent has violated your parenting agreement, you can take action to enforce the order.

Parenting Plan Violations in Illinois

Illinois parenting plans must be fairly comprehensive when it comes to addressing parenting time, decision-making responsibilities, and communication between co-parents. As such, there are many ways that a parent could violate the terms of the agreement. For example:

  • Keeping the children beyond the end of their scheduled parenting time

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Will County family lawyerAfter a divorce, most parents want to ensure that they can spend as much time as possible with their children. However, parents who work or attend school will need to balance their parenting responsibilities with these other demands on their time. This can be especially difficult for single parents who may not be able to rely on the other parent’s assistance as they did when they were married. As you prepare for a divorce, you should be sure to understand your child care needs and consider how to address them in your divorce resolution.

Strategies For Managing Your Child Care Needs

You may think of providing for your children’s care as a personal responsibility that has little to do with your divorce proceedings. However, there are several aspects of the divorce process through which you can address child care. These include:

  • Creating a thoughtful parenting time schedule. If you and your spouse can cooperate, the court will allow you to work together to create a parenting time schedule that addresses the days and nights your children will stay with each parent, as well as plans for exchanges between homes. As you iron out a schedule that meets your needs, you should keep your work schedule in mind and try to reach an arrangement that minimizes overlap between your parenting time and your work responsibilities.

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Joliet family law attorneysIn many cases, a move to a new location after a divorce can be an important step in starting a new life, especially if it comes with a major change of scenery or a promising career opportunity. However, parents who plan to move with their children after divorce may need to consider not only their children’s best interests, but also the impact of the move on their former spouse. Whether your relocation happens with the other parent’s consent or you need to seek approval from the court, you will also need to prepare to update your parenting plan to account for the change.

What Parenting Plan Modifications Will I Need to Make?

In an ideal scenario, a relocating parent can work with the other parent to modify the parenting plan in a way that protects both parents’ relationships with the children and allows the other parent to feel comfortable with the move. However, it is not always possible for parents to reach such an agreement. When the parents are in conflict, an Illinois court will need to decide on appropriate modifications that are in the children’s best interests. Some of the most important factors the court will consider include the opportunities for the children in the new location and the impact of the move on the children’s relationships with both of their parents.

Regardless of how the modifications come about, here are some ways that your parenting plan may need to change to accommodate for the relocation:

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Will County family law attorneysUnder any circumstances, divorced parents may find it challenging to share parenting time in a way that meets the children’s needs, fosters a strong relationship between the children and both parents, and minimizes co-parenting conflicts. Over the course of the past year, the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have only further complicated these issues. Whether you are already divorced or you are going through a divorce now, an experienced attorney can help you handle parenting time to account for the current situation.

How Has COVID-19 Affected Parenting Time in Illinois?

The pandemic has brought about many changes to our way of life in Illinois and throughout the United States. Some of the changes that can directly affect divorced or divorcing parents include:

  • Family health concerns - Many parents are concerned about the spread of the virus when children transition between households, especially if each parent has a different perspective on upholding health precautions. Parents who are at risk of severe complications from the virus, or who live with grandparents and other older relatives, may be especially worried.
  • Changing work schedules - The increased prevalence of working from home means that many parents are sharing close quarters with their children during the day and trying to balance the responsibilities of work and parenting. Alternatively, health care employees and other essential workers may find themselves working greater or irregular hours, which can detract from their scheduled parenting time.
  • Remote learning - Whether a child’s school is closed for in-person learning or parents have chosen to keep their children at home, parents now often find themselves responsible for ensuring that their children are staying on task and keeping up with their education, and for ensuring that their children have the space and materials to learn effectively.
  • Travel limitations - Parents who rely on public transportation to exchange their children between households may be exposed to greater risk of contracting the virus. Additionally, parents who live across state lines may find themselves subject to restrictions on interstate travel, making it difficult to regularly exchange their children.

Adapting to Changing Realities

With all of these new challenges in mind, it is important for parents to take extra care when creating a parenting plan, or when carrying out the terms of an existing plan. Parenting plans may need to be adapted based on a parent’s work schedule, or to allow for the children to have a dedicated space for at-home learning. Parents may also need to be flexible and consider options including virtual parenting time via phone or video chat, or rearranging schedules to make up for missed parenting time due to an unexpected circumstance.

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