The issue of child custody—officially known as the allocation of parental responsibilities under Illinois law—is often among the most difficult concerns to resolve in a divorce. Parents who have spent years raising their children together may suddenly be arguing over the role that each of them will play in the lives of their children. A dispute over parental responsibilities can quickly become a very stressful and emotional situation for both the parents and the children. In some cases, extended family members are affected as well.
Every case is unique, and parents facing such a dispute should not make any assumptions about the level of responsibility that they will be granted. Instead, they should keep in mind a few important factors that may influence the outcome.
The Importance of Both Fathers and Mothers
In the past, mothers were often the primary caretakers of the children in a marriage, and were therefore commonly awarded primary or full custody of the children in a divorce. Today, things are largely very different. Evolving social norms and the realities of life have led to an increase in families in which both parents work, and more fathers play a prominent role in the day-to-day lives of their children. Such changes are being reflected in court decisions as well, as family court judges tend to lean toward shared parenting arrangements whenever possible.
Mental Health and Parental Responsibilities
Another major change can be seen in how judges treat parents who are dealing with depression or other mental health concerns. The mental health of both parents and children is an important consideration in decisions regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time, but a parent’s mental health issues by no means preclude him or her from involvement in the children’s lives as long as they do not adversely affect the children’s best interests.
Once your parenting arrangements have been set up, including your parenting time schedule, it is important to follow it, and child support disputes should not affect whether you comply with the arrangements. Too often, parents believe that if their former partner is behind on child support, the recipient parent has the right to limit the delinquent parent’s parenting time. This is not the case. Failing to pay child support and interfering with a parent’s ordered parenting time could both lead to problems for an offending parent.
Amicable Parenting Plans
Even if you and your child’s other parent get along well, it is still important to have a parenting plan in place. Considerations such as the child’s address for school enrollment, which parent will be responsible for medical care, and parenting time during the holidays should be addressed in advance. Parents must also decide how their parenting plan can be amended if needed in the future. Situations change, and the terms you decide on now might not be as applicable in just a few years.
Contact a Wheaton Family Law Attorney
These are just a few of the concerns that may come up during a dispute over parental responsibilities. If you have related questions or would like more information, contact a DuPage County divorce and child custody lawyer at Andrew Cores Family Law Group. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation today.