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DuPage County family law attorneyIf you are a parent who is getting divorced, issues related to your children will be some of the most important matters that you will need to resolve. As you work to negotiate a divorce settlement with your spouse, you will create a parenting plan that fully details all decisions related to the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation). The determination of how you and your spouse will divide the time that your children will spend in each of your homes will affect many other issues in your case, so you will want to make sure you have addressed this issue properly and made arrangements that will provide for your children’s best interests.

Common Parenting Time Arrangements

There are a multitude of different ways that parents can divide parenting time. When making these decisions, parents should consider the roles that they have played when caring for their children in the past, the feasibility of a proposed schedule, and how they can maintain consistency for their children and work together as co-parents to meet their needs. Some common ways of dividing parenting time include:

  • 50/50 schedules - If both parents have played equal roles in raising their children and providing daily child care, they may be able to maintain these roles by creating a schedule in which they will each have equal amounts of time with the children. In these cases, parents will need to make sure arrangements are in place for transporting children to and from school or daycare, and they will both need to have time in their work schedules to care for their children on a daily basis and on weekends. Parents may use a 2/2/3 schedule in which children stay at each parent’s home for two days during the week while alternating three-day weekends between parents, or they may alternate weeks with each parent or use other arrangements for sharing equal amounts of parenting time.

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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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