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Wheaton, IL divorce mediation attorneyWhen parents get divorced, determining child custody arrangements is often their top priority. It can be extremely difficult for parents who are used to seeing their children every day to transition to a parenting time schedule in which they only see their children part of the time. In Illinois child custody disputes, parents will need to make decisions about the “allocation of parental responsibilities” as well as the amount of time the child spends with each parent, called “parenting time.” Disagreements about these issues can quickly become antagonistic and unproductive. Mediation is one option for parents who are struggling to reach an agreement about child custody concerns. This method of alternative dispute resolution may help you and your child’s other parent reach an agreement about child custody and other child-related disputes. There are a number of good reasons to consider mediation, including:

Mediation Does Not Take Place in the Courtroom

Litigation is typically much more expensive than mediation. Furthermore, the formal courtroom setting can make some parents focus on “winning” instead of trying to find a solution that is in their child’s best interests. By working to reach agreements outside of the antagonistic format of court proceedings, parents may be able to resolve disputes much more quickly and easily. In addition, mediation is also a confidential process, as opposed to the public setting of a courtroom.

Parents Are More Likely to Comply With the Parenting Plan

During mediation, parents negotiate a mutually-agreeable child custody arrangement with guidance from a trained mediator. The mediator helps facilitate productive discussion, but he or she does not tell parents what to do. Ultimately, any parenting arrangement that results from mediation will be the product of the parents’ negotiations, and in some cases, parents may also consider input from experts such as child development specialists. When parents have a hand in creating their own parenting plan, they are much more likely to abide by the decisions contained in that plan.

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Wheaton divorce attorney for parenting time violationsParents who get divorced in Illinois will need to create a parenting plan or parenting agreement as part of their divorce settlement. If parents cannot agree on a plan, the court will make decisions about child custody and issue a parenting plan. In either case, a parenting plan will specify how major decisions about the child will be handled and when each parent will enjoy visitation, technically called “parenting time,” with their child. Understandably, many parents struggle to make the adjustment from spending every day with their child to sharing parenting time with their ex-spouse. However, if a parent purposefully violates the parenting agreement or withholds parenting time from the other parent, he or she can face serious consequences.

Penalties for Violating Your Illinois Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is an official court order, and both parents are required by law to follow the directions contained in the plan. Refusing to allow the other parent his or her allotted parenting time can result in civil and criminal consequences, including but not limited to:

  • A $500 fine

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Wheaton divorce attorney parenting plan co-parentingMany people use the start of a calendar year to make New Year’s resolutions. If you are a divorcing or unmarried parent, you may wish to make a resolution related to more effective co-parenting. Raising a child with someone who you used to date or be married to can be extremely complicated. It can be nearly impossible to keep personal feelings toward the other parent separate from parenting issues. However, studies show that children can be deeply affected by parental arguments and tension. Finding a way to work with your child’s other parent instead of against him or her will benefit both you and your child in a multitude of ways.

Keep Conversations Brief, Respectful, and Child-Focused

One of the best ways to avoid adding additional stress or complications to the already difficult process of co-parenting with an ex is to communicate effectively and respectfully. Keep conversations focused on your child and resist the temptation to discuss issues related to why your relationship ended or other personal matters. Do not criticize the other parent or use profanity. Even if the other parent chooses to disrespect you, do your best to take the high road and remain calm. Many parents find that communicating through email or text messages helps reduce the risk of arguments, but you should find the communication strategy that works best for your unique situation.

Stick to Your Parenting Plan

Divorcing parents in Illinois must submit a parenting plan to the court. This plan details how parental responsibilities will be shared, and it contains a schedule for parenting time, among many other important provisions. This parenting plan is not simply a formality. It is essential that you and your former partner follow the directions contained in your parenting plan. Do not make a habit of deviating from the parenting plan, because this will only increase the likelihood of miscommunication and confusion. If your child’s other parent refuses to obey the directions contained in your parenting agreement, contact a family law attorney to learn about your legal options for enforcement.

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DuPage County divorce parenting plan attorneyBeing a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Cooperatively raising a child with an ex-spouse or former partner can be even harder. If you are a divorcing or unmarried parent who plans on sharing parental responsibility with your ex, you probably have many concerns about how a joint custody arrangement will work out. Effective co-parenting takes patience, perseverance, and planning. One of the best ways to prevent disagreements and problems in a co-parenting scenario is to have a solid strategy for how you plan to share parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Illinois Requires Parents to Create a Parenting Plan

If you are getting divorced in Illinois and wish to share parenting time with your spouse, you are required to submit a parenting plan to the court. Ideally, you and your spouse can agree to a plan, but if you cannot agree, the court will intervene and decide what should be included in the official parenting agreement. This plan will assign important decision-making responsibilities (formerly called child custody) and parenting time (formerly called visitation) to each parent. Additionally, the parenting plan must contain provisions which address:

  • The child’s official residential address

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DuPage County high conflict divorce lawyer parenting plan

While nearly every divorce has some degree of contentiousness, a high-conflict divorce can be especially volatile. High levels of conflict can be the result of two spouses who are unwilling or unable to cooperate, or they can be caused by one spouse who is especially resentful of the other. When parents decide to end their marriage, they must consider how they will share parental responsibility and parenting time. Making these decisions can be nearly impossible without court intervention if the parents cannot effectively communicate with each other.

During a high-conflict divorce involving parents, it is often the children who suffer most. Fortunately, there are many resources and strategies available to parents that experts say can reduce the emotional turmoil of a high-conflict divorce for everyone involved. These include:

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