Illinois uses the term "parenting time" instead of "visitation" when referring to the time a parent spends with his or her child. Divorced spouses and unmarried co-parents must contend with several complex issues. Determining a parenting time schedule is often of the most challenging aspects of a shared custody arrangement. This is especially true if a parent has an unpredictable work schedule or if parents disagree about how to share time with their children. If you are a parent currently going through a divorce or separation, consider the following factors when designing your parenting time schedule.
The amount of parenting time each parent has can be decided by the parents or ordered by a judge, depending on the circumstances of each case. If parents can reach an agreement about parenting time and other matters, they can save themselves the time, expense, and stress of going to court. Parents who are able to communicate and cooperate with one another are more likely to be successful in reaching an agreement about parenting time.
You and your child's other parent have the right to devise whatever parenting time arrangement works for you. Some common parenting time arrangements include:
A regular schedule with specific days and times for each parent - For example, the child may spend every other weekend with each parent as well as two weeknights per week.
A rotating schedule that alternates weeks or months - For example, the child may spend one week with Parent A, the next week with Parent B, the following week with Parent A, and so on.
A schedule based on the child's activities and needs - For example, the child may spend time with each parent when he or she has soccer practice or piano lessons.
When creating a parenting time schedule, consider the following:
The age of your child - Young children need more stability and routine compared to older children.
The distance between your homes - A long distance between homes may make it difficult to have a traditional parenting time schedule.
Your work schedules - If you or your child's other parent work odd hours or have a lot of business travel, it may be difficult to stick to a regular parenting time schedule.
Your child's extracurricular activities - If your child is involved in many activities, you may need to be flexible in order to accommodate his or her schedule.
Also, consider the role the "right of first refusal" will play in your parenting time arrangement. This element of the parenting plan is especially important if either parent has an unpredictable work schedule or other commitments that might interfere with his or her ability to care for the child.
The "right of first refusal" gives the child's other parent the opportunity to provide care for the child before resorting to outside childcare. For example, if a mother is supposed to have the child on Wednesday but her work schedule changes and she can no longer make it, the other parent would have the opportunity to care for the child instead of the child going to daycare.
Our DuPage County family law attorneys can help you negotiate the terms of your Illinois parenting plan, resolve custody disputes, and handle other family law and divorce issues. Call J. Aldrich Law, P.C. at 630-953-3000 to set up a confidential consultation.