Considering Alternative Formats for Parenting Time
Illinois replaced the term “child custody” with “allocation of parental responsibilities” because parenting after a divorce involves more than who has custody of the children. Each parent has a role in raising and making decisions for their children. Parents must form a parenting plan that defines their individual responsibilities to their children. The parenting schedule is only one part of the plan, but it is probably the most important part. Nothing replaces the value of time spent with a child. Most parents use a traditional schedule that splits parenting time between weekdays and weekends. This is often the most practical and least disruptive schedule for both parents and children. With the more flexible definition of the allocation of parental responsibilities, some parents have created alternative schedules that work best for them. While these alternatives may not be your best options, it is worth knowing that these options exist.
Alternatives to Weekends
Weekends are usually the best time to exchange children because it is when children and parents are most likely to have free time. If parents do not live near each other, weekends may be the only practical time. However, weekday or evening visits may work if:
- A parent usually works weekends;
- A child is not at school age;
- The parents live near each other; or
- The children are on summer break from school.
Even Division of Parenting Time
Illinois courts prefer that one parent has a majority of the parenting time because it is considered less disruptive to the children. Parenting plans often involve one parent having 70 or 80 percent of the time with the children. Some parents instead split their time in a 60-40 ratio or divide it nearly evenly between them. A court will likely reject a 50-50 parenting plan unless the parents can prove that the plan is in the best interest of the children and will cause minimal disruption.
For children, the most disruptive part of parenting schedules is being transported between their parents’ homes. Nesting plans negate that disruption by keeping the children in one home and scheduling the parents to stay with the children at different times. However, a nesting agreement is impractical for many parents because:
- They must cooperate in continuing to own and live in the same home;
- Each of them will be paying for a second residence for when they are not in the home; and
- Their work schedules may not give them time to travel between two residences.
Your Parenting Plan
The best alternative to a traditional parenting schedule may be allowing flexibility so that you are not locked into specific days of the week. A Kane County divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you create a parenting plan that works for your needs. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-879-9090.