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How Divorced Parents Can Create a Happy Father’s DayFather’s Day is a special celebration for all dads and their children, but the holiday may take on added significance if you are a divorced dad. Many divorced fathers must work hard to maintain a close relationship with their children. Mothers are still more likely to receive a majority of the parenting time with the children, leaving fathers with only a few days with their kids each week. Father’s Day is an excellent opportunity for children to spend quality time with their divorced dad, and mothers should encourage their children to celebrate the holiday. Both divorced parents have a role in ensuring a happy Father’s Day for their children.

Flexibility

Your normal parenting schedule may conflict with a planned Father’s Day celebration. For instance, the children may normally spend part or all of Sunday with their mother. As long as you both agree, you can be flexible with your parenting schedule to allow the father to have more time with the children. You could agree to adjust your schedule so that the mother receives more parenting time on another day in exchange for time on Father’s Day.

Creative Solutions

There are situations where it is not feasible or practical for the children to be with their dad on Father’s Day. Long-distance travel is difficult right now because of the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. When faced with obstacles to a traditional Father’s Day celebration, you can come up with creative solutions, such as:

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What Is a Parent’s Right of First Refusal in Illinois?The parenting time schedule that parents create during a divorce is the best estimate of what times of the week each parent will be available to care for the children. There are always special circumstances in which a parent may be unavailable during their normal parenting time. Maybe your job needs you to stay late or travel for a meeting. Your best friend may have invited you to their birthday celebration. You could become sick to the point that you temporarily cannot function as a parent. If your children are too young to care for themselves, you will be looking for another caregiver, such as a relative, friend, or babysitter. However, some parenting agreements include the right of first refusal, which requires you to offer your co-parent the chance to care for the children before anyone else.

How Do You Create the Right of First Refusal?

The right of first refusal is not implied in Illinois. Your parenting plan must state that each parent will have the right of first refusal, which you can add yourselves or a court could require. When parents cannot agree on the right of first refusal, a court may decide to include it in the parenting plan if it would be in the best interest of the children.

How Does the Right of First Refusal Work?

Each parenting plan has its own terms for when and how the right of first refusal will be activated, which either you or the court will define. Key factors you must define include:

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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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