Too often, children believe that a divorce is their fault and that if they had behaved better, maybe mom and dad would not be splitting up. Parents know that this is not true, but these thoughts can lead youngsters down a path of mental disturbance.
This is why having a proper parenting plan put in place is important for children whose parents are involved in a divorce. As part of a parenting plan, both parents can decide on a schedule for visitation—now called parenting time in Illinois—after the physical separation of the family.
Keeping Parents Involved
Child development experts and mental health professionals tend to agree that is usually best for children of divorce to have both parents continue to play an active role in the children’s lives. There are exceptions, but children who grow up with only one active parent seem to be at a higher risk for:
- Mental illnesses;
- Poor academic performance; and
- Behavioral problems.
By creating a reliable parenting time schedule, parents can offer their children the stability they need, even after a divorce.
Guidelines for Making a Parenting Time Schedule
According to Illinois law, a parenting plan must include a parenting time schedule. For some families, parenting time can be divided almost equally. Most often, however, one parent will have the majority of the parenting time while the other parent will spend time with their children every other weekend and at least one night during the week.
In creating their schedule, parents should consider special occasions as well, including but not limited to:
- Holidays: How will the parents spend Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other important holidays? It would be nice if both parents could spend the holiday together with their children, but this is rarely the case. More often, parents will choose to celebrate holidays on different days or split the day in half so both can get time with the children;
- Birthdays: If parents do not celebrate a child’s birthday together, they can plan separate parties or outings. The schedule can also be arranged to accommodate each parent’s birthday; and
- Vacations: Parents can discuss upcoming vacations and modify their parenting plan to accommodate each other’s needs. This way the child does not have to be left out of family trips.
An important element of a parenting plan is a provision for how the parents will address needed modifications. Illinois law expects parents to work together, if possible, and may require them to participate in mediation before filing a petition in family court. If the parents cannot reach a resolution on their own or through mediation, the court will decide what is in the child’s best interests.
Contact a St. Charles, IL Visitation Attorney
In most situations, children should be able to have time with both parents after a divorce. The attorneys at Weiler & Lengle, P.C. can help both mothers and fathers secure parenting time so that their children can enjoy a stable, healthy environment. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Kane County divorce lawyer, call 630-382-8050.