The breakup of a long-term relationship can be difficult for everyone involved, but it can be especially hard for parents who share children. If you are planning to get a divorce or are preparing to end a relationship with an unmarried partner, making decisions about how you will parent your children going forward may be one of the biggest challenges you will face. Creating a parenting plan that both parents can agree on can be difficult and overwhelming. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize conflict as you make decisions about how you will share the custody of your children, while also putting a framework in place that will help you avoid arguments and disputes in the future.
The attorneys of [[title]] understand the complex and challenging issues that often play a role in matters related to child custody. We work with our clients to help them create parenting plans that are tailored to their unique needs, while also offering practical and effective advice on how to minimize conflict with their child’s other parent. Our goal is to help parents resolve disputes as amicably as possible while ensuring that they will have the tools and resources they need to provide for the best interests of their children in the years to come.
Understanding Parenting Plans in Illinois
In divorce and child custody cases, parents will need to make decisions about a variety of key issues related to their children. When it comes to child custody, there are two main issues to address: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody (sometimes known as visitation) details where the children will live and which parent they will primarily reside with, as well as when they will spend time in the care of each parent. Legal custody deals with decision-making rights on matters such as education, religion, medical care, and other important issues related to the child’s life.
In Illinois, physical custody is known as parenting time. Parents will make decisions about the days and times that children will spend with each party, and they will need to create a workable schedule that will be followed at all times. This schedule may address days that children will stay overnight in each parent’s home, as well as any other times parents spend with children, such as weeknight visits or times when parents will pick children up from school or drop them off at daycare.
Legal custody is known as the allocation of parental responsibilities, and it will determine how parents will share the right to make certain types of decisions related to their children. In most cases, parents will share joint legal custody, meaning that they will have an equal say in making decisions about child-related issues, and they will need to work together to reach agreements on these matters. However, certain areas of responsibility may be allocated to one parent, giving them the ability to make decisions without consulting or receiving approval from the other parent. In rare cases, all areas of responsibility may be allocated to one parent. However, even when this is the case, the other parent will usually still have the right to have regular, ongoing parenting time with the children.
A parenting plan will detail how all of these issues will be addressed. It will specify how decision-making responsibilities will be allocated between parents, while also including any details to determine how certain decisions will be made or how parents will address any disagreements that may arise in these areas. The plan will include a detailed schedule for parenting time. In addition to determining when children will stay with each parent on a daily or weekly basis during the school year, it will also specify how parenting time will be handled during school vacations in the summer, winter, and spring, as well as how different holidays or other special days will be divided between the parents.
In addition to the basic issues related to legal and physical custody, a parenting plan will include other details to ensure that parents will be able to provide for their children’s needs. It may provide rules that will apply to parents, such as how children will be disciplined, when and how parents may communicate with children when they are with the other parent, whether parents can keep firearms or other dangerous items in their homes, and whether other people, such as extended family members, may be present in a parent’s home during their scheduled parenting time. It can also provide guidance on appropriate forms of communication between parents and how they may resolve any disagreements related to their children that they may encounter in the future.
Resolving Disputes When Creating a Parenting Plan
When making decisions about the terms of a parenting plan, it is important to ensure that children’s best interests will be protected. Some tips to follow when negotiating a parenting plan include:
Focus on what is best for children – When crafting a parenting plan, it is important to put children’s needs and interests first. Ideally, parents should focus on how they will be able to meet their children’s needs rather than on their own desires. Maintaining this focus can help keep conflict at bay by ensuring that children will be put first in all decisions that are made. It can also help parents determine how they will be able to cooperate with each other while encouraging them to be flexible and open to making changes or adjustments when necessary.
Set clear expectations and boundaries – During negotiations related to child custody, it is important to set expectations from the very beginning. By having an open discussion about what parents hope to accomplish, this can ensure that boundaries will be put in place while also establishing workable communication protocols. Mutual respect is key, and each party should be able to give their opinions without disrespecting the other parent’s beliefs or actions. Establishing the proper framework for discussions can ensure that parents will be able to stay focused on issues related to their children rather than becoming mired in arguments about their relationship or issues that led to their breakup.
Be open to compromise – When negotiating a parenting plan, both parties should try to be as flexible as possible and be willing to compromise as they determine what is best for their children. It is important to remember that neither party will get exactly what they want; rather, parents should approach negotiations with an understanding that there will be give-and-take on both sides. This will ensure that each party will feel heard and respected as they work together to come up with solutions that will allow them to meet their children’s needs going forward.
In some cases, parents may be able to negotiate between themselves as they make decisions about child custody and create a workable parenting plan. They may be able to do so with the help of their respective attorneys, who can provide guidance on the requirements that will need to be met to ensure that a parenting plan will be legally valid. With the help of an attorney, a parent can make sure their rights will be protected in the decisions that are made, and they can understand the long-term implications of these decisions and the issues that may arise in the future.
However, attorney-assisted negotiations can be very time-consuming, and parents may encounter conflicts that will be difficult to resolve. In many cases, the negotiation process may be handled more quickly, efficiently, and effectively through mediation. This process will allow parents to sit down together and work out the details of their parenting plan with the assistance of a neutral mediator. Mediation is often a good way to have positive discussions that will focus on the best interests of children and ensure that parents will be able to cooperate in the future. Once the mediation process is complete, parents will be able to file their agreed parenting plan in court and finalize their divorce or child custody case.
Minimizing Future Conflict
In addition to addressing child-related issues during the process of negotiating a parenting plan, parents will want to make sure they take steps to address potential disagreements that may arise in the future. In some cases, these disagreements may be unavoidable, but it may be possible to minimize conflict and ensure that parents can work out these issues and focus on doing what is best for their children. Some tips for addressing future disagreements include:
Avoid vague language – In many cases, disagreements between parents occur because they are unclear about how the terms of their parenting plan will apply in different situations. By taking the time to fully detail how certain issues will be handled and create a complete understanding of the rights and responsibilities of each party, parents can help prevent disputes over these issues in the future.
Create a framework for communication – It is important for parents to be able to communicate regularly so that they are aware of any issues that affect their children. A parenting plan can detail when and how parents will communicate with each other, and it can also specify the types of issues that parents will be required to inform each other about. This can ensure that parents will always understand what is happening in their children’s lives and that they will be able to work together to meet their children’s needs.
Be flexible – Even though a parenting plan may detail specific rules and schedules, it may be necessary to deviate from these expectations in certain situations. Unexpected circumstances may arise, and parents can try to help each other out whenever possible to ensure that they will be able to provide for their children’s needs. Being willing to adjust schedules and make temporary changes can help minimize potential conflict while encouraging positive parent-child relationships.
Make arrangements for conflict resolution – While parents will often be able to discuss any disagreements they may encounter and determine how to resolve these issues, there are some situations where one or both parents may be unwilling to budge or where negotiations may reach an impasse. A parenting plan can help address these situations by stating the methods parents may use to resolve conflicts, such as mediation. This can help ensure that disputes will not get out of control, requiring legal action to resolve.
Contact Our Elmhurst Parenting Plan Attorneys
Child custody can be an emotionally charged issue in any divorce or family law case. It is important for parents to understand the steps they can take to protect their rights while ensuring that the decisions they make will provide for their children’s best interests. At [[title]], our DuPage County child custody lawyers can provide guidance to parents in these situations, helping them determine how they can reach agreements while minimizing conflict both now and in the future. To set up a consultation and learn how we can assist with issues related to parenting plans, contact us at [[phone]].