Tag Archive for: parenting plans

Navigating the Holiday Season During Divorce: A Co-Parenting Guide

When we think of the holidays, we think of happiness and being surrounded by our loved ones. However, it can present a unique set of challenges for divorced – or divorcing – parents.

Whether this is your first holiday season post-divorce, amid a divorce, or you’re a seasoned co-parent, effective preparation and clear communication are crucial for a fulfilling holiday experience for your children.

Given that a divorce occurs approximately every 36 seconds somewhere in the United States, the importance of finding peaceful ways to co-parent cannot be more important. In this blog, we aim to provide practical tips and insights to help provide a peaceful holiday for you and your children. Here’s what you need to know.

Understanding Parental Responsibilities

It’s important to know that “custody” is no longer used. It is now called “parental responsibilities.” This includes two main things: parenting time (formerly “visitation”) and the power to make decisions for children. Parenting time is a schedule that shows when each parent spends time with the children. This schedule is created and approved by a judge in family court. If the parents can’t agree on the schedule, the judge will decide what’s best for the child and assign a schedule for the parents.

Parental responsibilities refer to the decision-making responsibilities that each parent will have on behalf of the child. Parents can agree to make these decisions together or divide them into categories, which should cover the following:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Religion
  • Extracurricular Activities

If the parents can’t agree on who gets what responsibility, the Illinois family court judge will allocate those responsibilities among them. Let’s dive into some tips that will help you make co-parenting easier this holiday season.

1. Review and Update Your Co-Parenting Plan

During the emotional and often stressful period of divorce, having a clear co-parenting plan can provide stability and predictability for both you and your children. This plan should outline how you and your ex-spouse will share responsibilities and make decisions regarding your children. If you’re unsure about how to create or modify your co-parenting plan, seeking the assistance of a family law attorney can be incredibly valuable.

A family law attorney can offer guidance and legal advice to help you develop a plan that provides clarity and structure throughout the holiday season. With a clear plan, you can aim for holiday celebrations filled with warmth, understanding, and the season’s magic.

2. Prioritize Communication and Planning

Children flourish when they have stability. To create a harmonious holiday season, it’s vital to present a united front and communicate holiday plans clearly and calmly. Share your holiday plans, including travel details, accommodations, and emergency contacts. Stay updated on any changes or delays affecting the agreed schedule. Keeping the lines of communication open promotes transparency. By communicating effectively, co-parents can build trust between one another. This partnership can help reassure children that the holidays can still be joyful and celebratory despite changes in the family dynamic.

3. Be Flexible and Willing to Compromise

The holiday season is often unpredictable, and flexibility can be your greatest asset. While it’s important to stick to your parenting plan as much as possible, be prepared to make minor adjustments as needed. This could mean being flexible with pick-up and drop-off times or accommodating last-minute changes. The goal is to prioritize your children’s happiness and well-being, even if it means making concessions.

4. Establish and Maintain Traditions

Maintaining holiday traditions can provide a sense of continuity and comfort for children post-divorce. Work with your ex-spouse to determine which traditions to maintain and explore opportunities to establish new ones. Involving your children in this decision-making process can enhance their sense of inclusion and security. Here are some creative approaches to traditional celebrations:

  • Go out to eat instead of cooking.
  • Have a holiday picnic in a new part of the house.
  • Eat dinner while watching holiday movies.
  • Buy new holiday decorations.
  • Spend time with extended family.
  • Change your gift-giving routine.

5. Prioritize Your Children’s Needs

Parents, caregivers, and educators play a crucial role in helping children cope emotionally during and after a divorce. Studies show that children often encounter significant difficulties in these times, especially in the first year or two after the divorce. It’s essential to understand that each child is different, and what’s a big deal for one child might not be as important to another.

Pay attention to their feelings and needs, and be supportive if they struggle with the changes. Involve your child in the decision-making process where appropriate, giving them a sense of ownership and excitement about the holidays. Remember, the goal is to create lasting memories and positive experiences for your child. Lastly, try to keep negative feelings about your ex-spouse to yourself and maintain a positive attitude when discussing holiday plans.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

The holidays can be emotionally taxing, especially after a recent divorce or separation, which can intensify these emotions. It’s important to prioritize self-care to be the best parent you can be. Your family’s well-being is paramount, so don’t let the emotional strain of a custody case weigh you down.

At Masters Law Group, our family law attorneys focus on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. Attorney Erin E. Masters is a court-appointed Child Representative with experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Attorney Anthony G. Joseph is an approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives list for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

With a strong focus on assisting clients in Chicago and Chicago’s Western Suburbs (Elmhurst, Hinsdale, DuPage, Oakbrook), we offer various services to help parents, children, and families through difficult times like Divorce, Parenting Time, and Allocation of Parental Responsibilities.

If you require legal assistance, contact a member of our legal team today. Our attorneys will work with you to develop an appropriate action plan for your unique needs and goals. We will work diligently on your behalf and provide regular updates.

Contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation.

What Should You Include in Your Illinois Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a document that says who will make decisions for a child and how those decisions will be made. This often happens in a parental responsibilities case. These plans outline how you and the other parent will continue to care and provide for your children after you separate. 

It’s a good idea for a parenting plan to have a system in place for how disputes should be handled if the situation arises, and a way in which parents can periodically review and make necessary changes to the plan. The plan may also include other provisions or information intended to help both parents understand and abide by the shared responsibilities in raising the child or children.

What to include in your plan:

  • Where the child lives
  • Time the child spends with each parent
  • How each parent gets information and records about the child
  • How the child is to be transported for parenting time

When filing one plan, both parents must sign the plan indicating they agree on all the terms of the document. If parents do not agree, they must file separate plans. The court will look at each detail of both plans to determine what’s in the best interest of the child or children. 

Important things to know about Parenting Plans:

  • Each parent must file a parenting plan within 120 days of asking the court for parental responsibilities;
  • If the parents agree on parental responsibilities, including parenting time, they can file one parenting plan (signed by both parents) within the 120 days. If the parents don’t agree, they must each file their own parenting plans;
  • If neither parent files a parenting plan, the court will hold a hearing to determine the child’s best interests; and
  • The court will look at the parenting plans when it decides who gets parental responsibilities.

Once both plans have been created and shared with the court to examine each parent’s responsibilities, the court can accept the plan and it becomes a Joint Parenting Order. After the Joint Parenting Order is in place, changes cannot be made to it for two years. 

If either parent does not follow the order, they are breaking the law and can be taken to court. The purpose of a court order for parental responsibilities is to protect both parents’ rights when it comes to the care and decision-making responsibilities of the child.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois — joint allocation of parental responsibilities, sole allocation of parental responsibilities and shared allocation of parental responsibilities:

Joint allocation of parental responsibilities requires parents to cooperate in decision-making regarding education, health care and religious instruction. It does not mean that the children live with each parent for an equal amount of time. The parties will agree or the court will assign a residential parent. The non-residential parent will pay child support and exercise parenting time. The amount of time the children spends with the non-residential parent is addressed in a parenting time agreement or order.

Sole allocation of parental responsibilities is the term that describes the arrangement that gives one parent the responsibility for deciding everything related to the child’s welfare. It does not mean that the other parent is out of the picture. Parenting Time and parenting time can be the same in a sole allocation of parental responsibilities case as it is in a joint allocation of parental responsibilities case.

Shared allocation of parental responsibilities is a form of joint allocation of parental responsibilities. It is appropriate when the child spends equal time with each parent, the parents reside in the same school district and are able to join parents.

Parenting planning of your child can be a very emotional law topic. It can become complicated and require much interaction between the parents and the court. It’s in your best interests to hire an experienced attorney if you need assistance with parental planning issues.

Hiring Legal Help

Hiring an attorney highly experienced in family law will help you understand your legal options and create a plan for what comes next. Masters Law Group LLC focuses on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. We help clients put aside their grief and educate them about their options in child allocation of parental responsibilities.

We represent individuals in both their initial quest to set a parenting time schedule, as well as parents looking to modify a previously determined schedule. If you require a review of your current parenting time schedule or parenting plan, contact us here today to schedule a consultation.