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Solutions for Three Parenting Time ConflictsDivorcing parents would love to come up with a perfect parenting time arrangement – for their children’s sake if not their own. Unfortunately, plans are rarely perfect, and you may soon realize that your arrangement is not working out as you had hoped. You are allowed to modify your parenting plan, but only if one of the following is true:

  • It has been two years since the plan was last approved or modified.
  • There has been a significant change in circumstances for one of the parents or children.
  • Both parents agree to the modification.

Not every parenting time problem requires a modification to your plan. Here are three potential conflicts and ways that you can solve them:

  1. Your Children Are Struggling to Adjust: Splitting time between two homes is a major change for children that can cause them stress and make them uncomfortable. If you notice your child struggling with the change, talk to them about what is bothering them. There may be something missing from the new home that would make them more comfortable. A tweak in your parenting schedule could make the situation easier for them. Talk to your co-parent about your child’s problems and come up with a solution that works best for your child.
  2. Your Co-Parent Is Not Following the Schedule: Your parenting plan is a legal contract that you both must adhere to. Your co-parent is breaking that contract if they interfere with your parenting time by not dropping off your children when they are scheduled to. When you notice this problem, you should ask your co-parent why they are not sticking to the schedule. There may be a logistical issue that is delaying them, which you can work together on solving. If they do not have a reasonable explanation and the problem continues, you need to file a complaint in court in order to enforce your agreement.
  3. You Have Frequent Schedule Conflicts: When choosing your parenting time, it is important that your children are with you when you are available to spend time with them. Sometimes, unforeseen commitments will interfere with your parenting time. If your parenting time is consistently clashing with your work schedule, you may need to adjust one of them. Starting a new job is a significant change in circumstances that should allow you to immediately modify your parenting plan. If your children’s activities are conflicting with your parenting time, you need to work with your co-parent on a solution. Ask whether it is possible to become involved in your children's activities or if your co-parent is willing to adjust the schedule so that you are not losing as much parenting time.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

A parenting plan should be designed to serve the needs of your children and yourself. You need to change the plan if it is no longer doing that. A DuPage County divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you create and modify a parenting plan. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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When Is Equal Parenting Time Appropriate for Children?Illinois law requires courts to divide parenting time in a way that is best for the children. There is a rebuttable presumption that the children are better off when one parent receives a majority of the parenting time because it is more stable than frequently transporting children between parents. A group primarily made up of fathers’ rights advocates has spent years trying to change that presumption so that an equal division of parenting time is the default. State legislators have introduced equal parenting time bills multiple times in recent years, but none of them have progressed to a full vote by either chamber. It is difficult but possible to get a court to approve a 50/50 division of parenting time. There is no denying that children benefit from having an equally strong relationship with both of their parents. Other factors determine whether equal parenting time is the best arrangement for the children:

  1. Parenting Cooperation: Parents with equal time with the children need to work together more often because shared decision-making often accompanies shared parenting time. The parents must communicate about their children and sometimes receive permission from each other to make decisions. An equal parenting time plan will collapse if you are constantly clashing with your co-parent.
  2. Proximity: An equal parenting schedule involves either frequent child exchanges or staying with each parent a week or more at a time. Either way, the schedule will put stress on the children unless the parents live near each other. Proximity will shorten the travel time between homes, making each child exchange less of an ordeal. You should ideally live within the same school boundaries to make school transportation easier.
  3. Availability: Parents with equal parenting time must both be available to care for the children. This may mean having a work schedule that is compatible with the children’s schedules and forgoing other activities when it is their time to be with children. It is not fair to the children to have equal parenting time but to frequently use childcare during your parenting time.
  4. Capability: Children are solely reliant on a parent during their parenting time. Each parent needs to be capable of protecting and nurturing their children on their own. A lapse in care or discipline between parents is harmful to the children.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

The argument over equal parenting time is about which parenting arrangement courts should presume is best for children, not what the parenting arrangement should be for all cases. A Naperville, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you determine what division of parenting time will be best for your children given your situation. Call 630-393-3111 to schedule an appointment.

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Your Rights When a Child Refuses Parenting TimeParents normally understand the importance of each of them having parenting time after a divorce. It is a legal right that each parent is presumed to have, and the children benefit from the regular contact and relationships they form. However, what should parents do if a child refuses to visit one of them? Teenagers can insist on their right to decide which parent they spend time with, not thinking that it would violate a legal agreement. Both parents are responsible for solving any conflicts related to parenting time.

Right to Parenting Time

You can force your child to attend your parenting time, but he or she is likely to be miserable if he or she does not want to be there. You should ask your child why he or she does not want to visit you. You may need to ask specific questions if your child does not give you a clear answer, such as:

  • Are you comfortable spending time with me and living in my home?;
  • Is there anything I can do to make our time together more enjoyable?; and
  • Is there something else you would rather be doing when you visit me?

The last question may be crucial when talking to a teenager, who may feel that your scheduled visits disrupt his or her social life. Your teenager may be mature enough to have a say in your parenting schedule. Be willing to adjust your schedule to fit his or her needs, but tell your teenager why you still want to see him or her regularly.

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Answering Your Children's Questions About DivorceYour children will have many questions about your divorce, some of which may be difficult for you to answer. Some questions have obvious answers, such as “Do you still love me?” and “Is the divorce my fault?” There are other questions that you may not have immediate answers to, such as “Who will I be living with?” You can assure your children whatever parenting time decision you make will be in their best interest. The trickiest question is the big one: “Why did you get divorced?”

Preparing for the Question

You know that your children will ask about the reason you got divorced. Unfortunately, you do not know when or where they will ask the question. Your initial reaction could have a major effect on how future conversations on the subject will go. You should decide how honest you want to be with each child. No child wants to hear salacious details about your marriage, but children who are at or near adulthood may be able to handle more of the truth. The main points of your answer should be that:

  • They were in no way responsible for your decision to divorce;
  • It was a difficult decision to make, especially because of how it would affect them;
  • Parents may stop getting along for reasons that are no one’s fault;
  • Parents are best off getting a divorce when their marriage becomes unhealthy for them; and
  • Nothing about the divorce will ever change the fact that you love your children.

Detailed Questions

Your children may eventually ask you specific questions about the reason for your divorce that they were afraid to ask when they were younger. A question may be uncomfortable for you if it is about something you or your spouse did wrong, such as having an affair. Rather than deny what happened, you should be honest about your faults that may have contributed to your divorce and use it as a teaching moment:

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Creating a Parenting Schedule for the HolidaysYour first holiday season after your divorce can be stressful for you and your children because it is the first time you are not celebrating the holidays together as a family. Your parenting schedule should not add more stress to the season. Divorced parents often have unique schedules for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. You may have already included one in your divorce parenting agreement. However, you will not know how well the schedule works until you put it into action. You may need to adjust your holiday parenting schedule to something that works better for your children.

Qualities of a Good Schedule

You should build your holiday parenting schedule around what will create the most enjoyable experience for your children. This requires sacrificing some of your own time with the children so that both you and your co-parent can celebrate with them. How you divide your time depends on your individual circumstances. You should ask yourselves:

  • Which home will the children be most comfortable spending a holiday at?;
  • Which parent is most capable of hosting a holiday celebration such as a dinner?;
  • What other family members will the children be able to see when staying with each parent?;
  • Are the children old enough to handle traveling between parents on the holiday?; and
  • Is one parent more closely associated with certain holiday traditions than the other?

Types of Schedules

There are four ways that you can structure your holiday parenting schedule:

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