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Naperville child custody attorneysIf you are a parent who is considering ending your marriage, you probably have many concerns related to your children. You may worry about how you children will take the news of the divorce or how you and your spouse will share custody of the children after the split. If you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse plan to have joint custody of your children, you will need to learn how to share parental responsibilities in a way that prioritizes your children’s best interests. It can take hard work and humility, but the good news is that effective co-parenting after divorce is possible.

There Is Not Just One “Right” Way to Co-Parent

Just as every marriage is unique, every divorce is unique. Sometimes, a married couple breaks up and there are almost no feelings of bitterness or hostility between the former spouses. Other times, a divorce is wrought with conflict and spite. The way you co-parent will largely be determined by the relationship you have with your children’s other parent. If you and the other parent are able to easily communicate about child-related plans and concerns, you may be able to have a more casual co-parenting arrangement. However, if you and your children’s other parent struggle with productive communication, you may want to make firm parenting plans and decisions in advance.

Divorcing parents in Illinois are required to complete a parenting agreement or parenting plan which addresses how they plan to share parental responsibilities and parenting time. The creation of this agreement can be a valuable opportunity for parents to discuss in detail how they plan to share custody of their children and to put their co-parenting plans in writing.

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Naperville family law attorneysIf you are a parent who is considering divorce, you are probably worried about how the divorce will affect your children. While having divorced parents is not unusual these days, the transition from a one-house family to a two-house family can be rough on children. There is no perfect way to share custody of children as divorced parents. Some divorced parents choose to stay highly involved in each other’s lives and even take family vacations all together after the divorce. Other divorced parents choose to lead completely separate lives and only communicate when absolutely necessary. Your personal co-parenting strategy will depend on your unique circumstances and what you believe is best for your children.

Create a Detailed Parenting Agreement

Anyone getting divorced in Illinois who wishes to share parental responsibility with their child’s other parent must create a parenting agreement. Illinois law requires that certain items be included in this agreement. For example, parents must include a schedule for sharing parenting time (formerly called visitation) and parental responsibility (custody) as well as provisions for how the children will be transported between the households. Of course, there is no need to only include the minimum requirements in your parenting agreement. In fact, being more detailed and including agreements specific to your family is a great way to make sure you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse are on the same page. Including these agreements in writing helps ensure that they are followed by all parties after the divorce.

Vow Not to Put Children in the Middle

It can be incredibly stressful for children to have to play “messenger” for their parents. While it can be tempting to use your child as a means of checking up on the other parent, experts warn against this. Do not ask your children to relay messages to the other parent. Also, try not to speak negatively about the decisions your child’s other parent is making. This can make the child feel like he or she has to choose sides, which can be very upsetting. In extreme cases, talking negatively about your child’s other parent can be considered “parental alienation.” Parents who purposely tear down their child’s relationship with the other parent can have their own parental responsibilities limited by Illinois courts.

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