The holidays are stressful enough without having to deal with drastic or erratic behaviors from angry or exhausted ex-spouses. Many anxious parents in Illinois and elsewhere will seek out ad hoc parenting arrangements or make last-minute changes to a visitation schedule in a sometimes misguided effort to protect the children from stress.
Not only are these efforts likely to be unsuccessful, any informal agreements or actions outside of a court order are not only unenforceable, they can become adversarial and compromise the children’s emotional stability. For Springfield-area residents, understanding the legal basis of a custody and visitation schedule is essential for the sake of the children as well as the parental rights of the adults.
Parenting time in Illinois
Every state has different guidelines for custody and parenting time, but all prioritize what is in the best interests of the child. In Illinois, a parenting plan with this focus will generally consider continuity of the bonds of each parent to the child, the changing developmental needs of the children, daily decisions that custodial parents make on behalf of the child, and parental access to official records of the child.
Navigating parenting time during special occasions
Holidays are all about traditions, sharing and family. For families that have recently or currently are going through divorce, these times can trigger strong emotions that may prevent parents from thinking straight. Some may become over-protective and try to withhold contact of the children from the other parent, and others may feel left out and attempt to extend their parenting time.
While their motives may come from a love for their children, parents who are undergoing drastic changes to the family unit which is the source of their emotional stability may become irrational.
It can help to keep in mind ways of approaching parenting time during the holidays without doing anything rash, such as:
- knowing that the legal framework of the custody and visitation agreement will protect against any impulsive actions by one or both parents that violate the court-ordered or mediated agreement
- trusting that the other parent will continue to safeguard the children when they are with him or her, especially if you trusted them during the marriage
- monitoring the children’s concerns about the other parent or their behavior when with the other parent before making decisions about changing the schedule
- remembering that a negotiated or mediated changed is preferable to impulsive decisions
Finally, focusing on the significance of the holidays that you observe as a family is key to living those precious moments with your children and letting go for of everything else for a little while.