Co-Parenting in Illinois
In Illinois, co-parenting refers to sharing parenting duties during and after a divorce or separation. Creating a parenting plan for child-raising helps families function. It helps parents with shared parental responsibilities learn how to put the child's best interest first. And parenting together ensures that the child feels secure in their relationships with both parents.
What Exactly Is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting is when separated or divorcing parents commit to always putting their child's needs first. This means putting those needs before the issues they have with each other. It is a key pillar to a positive child custody and placement arrangement.
When parties co-parent, both parents have important roles in the child's life. This can be difficult for parents who experience frequent disagreements. But, in the end, it's worth it.
What Are the Benefits of Co-Parenting?
While co-parenting can be difficult to navigate, benefits include security, structure, a more balanced life, and stress reduction for children and parents. Below are some examples.
Benefits for Children:
- Exposure to positive conflict resolution develops their problem-solving skills.
- Respectful communication between parents promotes high self-esteem and teaches good social skills.
- Each parent having an active role in their life gives them security in their relationships.
Benefits for Co-Parents:
- Parents not having to fight to actively participate in their child's life means there is less conflict.
- Confidence in the other parent gives each parent well-deserved breaks.
- Less stress and tension between parents lets them focus on the well-being of their child.
- Good communication makes a lot of things easier like coordinating important meetings and events in the child's life.
Creating a placement schedule is an essential part of co-parenting. This is usually done in the parenting plan where you outline who will have the children at any given point. Parenting plans also create agreed-upon plans for health care, education, religion, and more. Since they are so helpful, the court requires a parenting plan in any divorce or separation that involves kids.
A good co-parenting schedule is made in the best interest of the child. Generally, Illinois state courts try to ensure that the child has an equal amount of time with each parent, meaning a 50/50 schedule. However, not every case is 50/50 because sometimes it is in the child’s best interest to spend more time with one parent.
If you want help in your child custody case, call Sterling Hughes to work with one of our attorneys. We’ll make sure to set you up for a successful co-parenting relationship.
Tips for Co-Parenting
Below is a list of strategies to help you create and maintain a healthy relationship for your child and co-parent.
1. Put Your Kids First
It's important to remember that it is not just you and your ex who experienced the stress of a divorce or separation. Putting your child before your feelings towards your ex will help them find stability. It creates security in their relationship with both you and the other parent.
2. Have Clear Co-Parenting Boundaries
Setting clear boundaries will help keep a respectful co-parenting relationship while keeping separate. Things like conversational boundaries that establish what can be discussed create clear expectations. This way both parties understand they are not entitled to know every aspect of each other’s lives.
3. Remain Flexible
While it's important for your child to have stability and consistency in the co-parenting schedule, you also need to be flexible. Sometimes schedules change, and things come up. Giving each other the benefit of the doubt allows your child to learn problem solving. And it encourages positive communication between co-parents.
4. Talk to One Another About Changes
Keep your co-parent in the loop regarding changes that could affect their time with the child. Whether that means a change in their extracurricular activity schedule, an upcoming event, or adjustments in your own schedule, tell the other parent when it will affect them.
5. Be Respectful and “Professional”
You don’t have to be friends with your ex to be a good co-parent. By setting the right boundaries, you can treat the co-parenting dynamic as if it is a business interaction. You don’t have to be friends with all your coworkers, but you do need to be able to work with them.
6. Remember That “Fair” Doesn't Always Mean “Equal”
A parent's time with their child is their own concern, but it can be frustrating when one parent is scheduling events or activities during your time. It is easy to assume that this is because of some ulterior motive from the other parent. But the reality could just be that they are listening to the desires of the child and what works best for them.
7. Be Accessible to Your Co-Parent
Make it a goal to have regular communication with your co-parent. Be available to talk about issues with your child, changes to the schedule, or adjustments to drop off/pick up times. While it's natural to want to avoid talking with your ex, it’s not productive to avoid them entirely. This is similar to hearing from your child's teacher where you want to hear from them regularly, not just when there's a problem
8. Find a Support Network for Difficult Times
It is natural that there will be times where tensions are running high. At times like this, it's important to have someone that you can talk these issues out with, whether that is a friend, family member, or online support group. This person should be someone who can see both sides clearly and is capable of providing sound feedback.
9. Don't Ignore Your Co-Parent's Birthday or Special Holidays
Even if the other parent's birthday is on your day, maybe you can switch days or let them have the child for dinner. Your child is switching from two different households, so it's important that they still have a sense of family and are able to be a part of celebrations.
10. Never Badmouth Your Ex, No Matter How Angry You Are
Speaking disrespectfully about your ex in front of your child negatively impacts your child's sense of security. It makes them question their relationship and doubt the other parent. This action is also looked at negatively by the courts because it can be considered custodial interference.
11. Don't Engage in Manipulation
Using your child as a way to manipulate your ex harms your child, now and in their future. Remember, you are raising a child with their own feelings and thoughts, not a bargaining chip.
Are you ready to move forward? Call (312) 757-8082 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.
What Are the Best Co-Parenting Apps in Illinois?
Even the healthiest co-parents have difficulty communicating and scheduling sometimes. Luckily, there are several apps that make the logistical side of co-parenting easier.
Our Family Wizard – This program allows you to send messages, schedule events, and send invoices for expenses. There is also the option for a “tone monitor” in order to better communicate. This app is used by many co-parents.
Talking Parents – This app gives parents a secure way to communicate that keeps track of conversations. It can even record phone calls and it gives you transcripts of them. There is also a calendar to keep both parties up to date.
Video Chatting (apps such as Google Meet and Facetime) – Video chatting is a great way for co-parents to connect with their child face to face and grow their relationship, even when they are away. This also helps kids when they miss the other parent.
Co-Parenting Versus Parallel Parenting
Co-parenting and parallel parenting are two different types of parenting. Which to pick depends on how collaboratively the parents can work together after their separation.
Co-parenting is used by parents who can problem-solve and work together for the best interest of the child. The interaction between the parents is cordial and allows the child to move from one house to the other easily. Ideally, this type of parenting sees minimal amounts of tension.
Parallel parenting is used by parents who cannot interact without there being high amounts of conflict. Most of the communication is written, and everything is kept completely separate. Parallel parenting should only be viewed as a last resort since this dynamic can be hard for kids. However, it may be the best option, especially in abusive or high conflict relationships.
Since there is no black-and-white when it comes to parenting, there could be some families that are a mix of co and parallel parenting. This could mean the parents see each other for drop-offs, but they can't sit together at a family function. In either situation, this should be decided based on what is in the best interest of the child and the parents.
Where Do I Get a Co-Parenting Plan Worksheet?
Parenting plans are required by the Illinois courts for any divorcing family with children. This is to ensure that the parents have a well-documented plan for how they will parent the child once the divorce is finalized. This worksheet can be found on our website on our parenting plan page.
How Do I Co-Parenting During COVID-19?
Family legal issues vary depending on the specifics of each case and can change as situations change. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, but some families were more than others. The Illinois courts have modified some procedures to help those who have been impacted.
If you feel your situation has significantly changed due to Covid, you can file a motion to modify custody or placement. With the changes that have been made to the courts, many court hearings take place over video calls.
How Do I Resolve Co-Parenting Disagreements?
Conflicts and disagreements are bound to happen when raising a child. Learning how to resolve these quickly will benefit your child. The key thing to keep in mind is this: Your child always comes first. Before starting a conversation or the decision-making process with your co-parent, resolve to only discuss the child, not each other.
It is important to plan for these situations. On your own or in the parenting plan, outline what the best course of action is to solve disagreements. Then when they come up, do your best to stick to the plan. In the moment, be sure to pay attention to your word choice, tone, and demeanor. This can go a long way towards keeping a disagreement from becoming something bigger.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Illinois a co-parent state?
Illinois is not a co-parent state. A co-parent state is one that starts cases with the assumption that both parents get 50/50 custody and placement. Instead, the Illinois courts seek to prove whether both parents should be responsible for the child. Under Illinois child custody laws, the courts do what is in the best interest of the child.
What is considered joint custody in Illinois?
Joint custody in Illinois is when both parents are responsible for making major decisions in the child’s life. Major decisions include things like medical decisions and where the child goes to school. Sometimes, only one parent has decision-making rights. This is called sole custody.
What rights does a father have in Illinois?
A father has the same rights to a child as a mother if paternity has been established. They are able to file to get custody and placement of the child. The court does not have to give custody or placement to either parent though. Rather, they do what is best for the child.
What is the most common child custody arrangement?
There are a variety of child custody and placement schedules. The best schedule for you depends on the schedules of the child and the parents. Some examples of common schedules are the 2-2-3, the 2-2-5-5, and the 7-on-7-off. Those are 50/50 schedules, but there are other options like one parent only getting every other weekend.
What is a co-parenting agreement?
A co-parenting agreement, also known as a parenting plan, outlines all the necessary information on the custody and placement of your child. This outlines everything from who makes decisions to holiday schedules to how to communicate last-minute changes.
What to do when parents disagree on parenting?
How disagreements are resolved should be outlined in the parenting plan. If your parenting plan is not specific enough, then have a conversation with the other spouse and try to work it out. Ultimately, if it is a smaller issue, then the person with the child at that time gets to decide. But if it is a major decision, then refer to your custody agreement to see if one party has final decision-making rights.
How do you co-parent with someone you still love?
The best thing to do is keep in mind that you are doing this for your children. It's not going to be easy, but it will get better as you grow comfortable in your new situation. You can use methods to distance yourself such as only talking over text or through an app like Our Family Wizard. You co-parent because it is best for your child, not because it's easy.