When you are forced to consider how you will share parenting responsibilities following a divorce or a separation, your initial feelings may be very confusing. It can be quite overwhelming to think about not being with your child all of the time, but you probably realize how important it is for your child to have a strong relationship with the other parent. Finding common ground during a difficult time can be very challenging, but a mutual commitment to finding a cooperative solution can go a long way in providing security and happiness for your child.
Visitation is Now Parenting Time
Recent changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act have amended the language used to describe a co-parent’s time with his or her child. For many years, any parent who was not deemed unfit or danger to the child was presumed to have rights of reasonable “visitation.” While the intention of the law may have been reasonable, referring to a parent’s time with his or her child visitation could have the effect of making the parent feel like an outsider or an interloper in the child’s life.
As of January 1, 2016, though, the law has changed the term visitation—regarding parents, at least—to parenting time. The amendment is intended to be more reflective of the inherent responsibilities and rights that parenting entails.
Making a Plan
While it may be difficult to work with your former partner, you should be able to agree that you both want what is best for your child. A family law court certainly has the authority to create a parenting time schedule, but you, as parents, are in the best position to know what works for your situation. Together, you can create a plan and schedule for spending constructive time with your child.
Doing so, of course, will require careful consideration of your respective work obligations, along with the physical, emotional, and educational needs of your child. You may determine that an alternating weekend arrangement is the most appropriate, or perhaps, each of you will have parenting time for parts of each week. As long as your agreement is equitable and meets your child’s needs, it is likely to be accepted by the court as part of your parenting plan.
Attorneys Who Care
If you are facing a divorce or other situation in which you will need to develop a plan for shared parenting time, contact an experienced DuPage County family lawyer. We will assist you in understanding the applicable laws and in drafting a plan that meets your child’s need while respecting your rights as a parent. Call 630-871-1002 to schedule your free initial consultation.