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The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.
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DuPage County family law attorney for holiday child custodyThis holiday season is shaping up to be like none other. If you are in the middle of a separation or divorce, your holiday season may be especially complicated. Sharing custody of children with a soon-to-be ex-spouse is hard enough, but sharing custody during the holidays can be even harder. Keep the following tips and suggestions in mind to help your holiday season go as smoothly as possible for you and your children:

Plan the Details in Advance

When a couple with children files for divorce in Illinois, they have 120 days to create and submit a “parenting plan.” This plan will describe how they will make major decisions about the child, who the child will live with on what days, how the child will be transported between homes, and much more. If you have not yet filed for divorce, or if you have not made any decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, you may only have a casual agreement about which parent the children will see on which days. This can lead to miscommunication and frustration. It is better to plan your holidays in advance. Decide where the children will stay on what days, when they will be picked up and dropped off, and other details, and then put these decisions in writing.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

There are many computer programs and smartphone applications that can help you and your ex collaborate when making decisions about parenting issues. Using email or text messages to communicate about children can help avoid in-person arguments, and this can also serve as an important record of the plans you and your spouse have made. Apps like Cozi, Coparently, and OurFamilyWizard allow you to keep track of schedules, expenses, and other child-related information.

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Wheaton child custody lawyerRaising children is one of the most difficult responsibilities a person can have. Parenting duties are often made even more challenging when parents must co-parent after a high-conflict divorce. If you have recently divorced or are planning to end your marriage soon, you may worry about how you and your ex will manage parenting duties. Effective co-parenting with a spouse who is uncooperative may seem like an unachievable task, but it is possible.

Consider Parallel Parenting

Significant research shows that consistent parental arguing and fighting dramatically impact children – even if the parents are divorced. If you and your ex cannot interact without the conversation devolving into name-calling or insults, consider parallel parenting. Parallel parenting is a parenting style in which the parents each have their own relationship with their children but parent-to-parent communication is kept to a minimum. A strong parenting plan that addresses parenting time schedules and other child-related matters using specific language is key to an effective parallel parenting arrangement.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

If you and your former spouse need to communicate about your child’s extracurricular schedules, medical appointments, or other issues, written communication may be easier and more effective than a phone call or face-to-face interaction. Using email or text messages to communicate about your child may also act as a record of informing the other parent about key information. For example, the other parent cannot claim that you never told him or her about your child’s school play if you have the email to prove that you did. Co-parenting applications such as Cozi, OurFamilyWizard, 2Houses, and Parentship allow you to keep messages, schedules, and calendars in one location on your phone, tablet, or computer.

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DuPage County child custody attorneyIn Illinois family law cases, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” are not referred to as “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” When divorcing parents cannot agree on an arrangement for dividing parental responsibilities and parenting time, the court may need to intervene. Custody-related legal proceedings can be stressful for both the parents and the children. If you are in a legal dispute with your child’s other parent, you may have concerns about your child’s involvement in the case. Child testimonies are sometimes, but not always, used in Illinois child custody disputes. Fortunately, Illinois courts have several methods for conducting child interviews in a way that minimizes the stress on the child.

Will My Child Be Put on the Witness Stand?

If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree upon a parenting arrangement, a judge will be tasked with making a custody determination that serves the child’s best interests. You may wonder whether this means that your child will be forced to testify in court. Typically, children are not required to testify in court; however, the judge may use a child interview to gather information regarding a custody case. 

Because court hearings can be very overwhelming and frightening for children, Illinois courts do everything possible to gather children’s testimonies in a child-friendly way. Rarely are children placed on the witness stand. If the judge wishes to hear the child’s testimony in a custody case, he or she will most likely speak to the child privately in the judge's chambers. The judge may ask the child questions about his or her thoughts, feelings, and preferences. Unless otherwise agreed upon, the parents’ respective attorneys will typically be present for the child interview. A court reporter will transcribe the child’s testimony word-for-word so that this testimony can be used in future child custody hearings.

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DuPage County divorce attorney for co-parenting

If you are a parent who is considering divorce, or if you have already started the process of ending your marriage, you probably have concerns about how you will share parental responsibilities and parenting time with your ex-spouse. Understandably, it can be very difficult for newly-divorced parents to jointly raise their children. It takes a great deal of teamwork, patience, and creativity to find a co-parenting strategy that works for your unique family situation. Fortunately, experts have several pieces of advice that may help divorced parents share parenting roles in a way that decreases stress for everyone.

Embrace Technological Assistance  

There are a good number of applications, websites, and other resources that divorced parents can benefit from. Some parents find that sharing a Google calendar can help them stay on track with parenting time schedules. Others use an app such as Cozi, Coparently, or OurFamilyWizard to organize parent and child schedules, keep track of school events, share information about expenses, and more. Often, the most difficult part of co-parenting is communicating with your ex. Using technology to connect can make the process easier and more organized.

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Lombard parenting plan modification lawyerWhen a couple makes the decision to pursue a divorce, the process can be incredibly complicated. When children are involved, the decisions made during divorce will affect their lives for years to come. However, people’s circumstances may change, and a modification to your divorce decree may be necessary in order to reflect changes in how you and your ex-spouse handle parental responsibilities and parenting time. If you plan to ask for a change to your child custody agreement, it is important to take the proper steps as you prepare for this request.

Preparing for a Parenting Plan Modification

You may petition for a modification to the parenting plan created in your divorce decree, but when considering these requests, a judge will base their decision on what is in children’s best interests. In order to show that your proposed changes will be in children’s best interests, you can take the following steps:

  • Remain Cordial With Your Former Spouse: The easiest way to modify your parenting plan is through working cooperatively with your ex-spouse to devise a plan that works for all parties involved. If you can show your former spouse that you can work together with them to provide a safe and loving home for your children, they are more likely to work with you in modifying the plan. On the other hand, any aggressive or insensitive behavior is likely to significantly impact their willingness to modify the plan. 
  • Be an Engaged Parent: If your former spouse is unwilling to work with you to modify your plan, even with the help of a mediator or family law professional, you may need to argue your case for a modification in a custody hearing. The best way to convince the court that you deserve more parental responsibilities or parenting time is through being a great parent. Be highly engaged in your child’s life, including staying informed of their academic performance and attending their extracurricular activities. You should also ensure that you have ample space in your home for your child to live, sleep, and play. 
  • Pay Child Support: Proving that you are a responsible parent is incredibly important as you look to modify your parenting plan. If you are responsible for paying child support, it is important that you make each payment in full and on time. Meeting your child support responsibilities can also encourage your former spouse to work with you in developing a mutually-beneficial modification to the parenting plan. 

Contact a Wheaton Family Law Attorney

At the Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C., we understand the difficulties that parents and children face when struggling to adjust to the reality of divorce. If your family’s situation has changed, our attorneys will work with you to modify your parenting plan and help you reach an outcome that is best for you and your family. To schedule an initial consultation with a knowledgeable DuPage County child custody lawyer, contact us today at 630-462-9500. 

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