Five Mistakes to Avoid in Parental Responsibility Cases

Proceedings related to child custody—now called the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois—are challenging, nuanced, and, in most cases, emotionally draining for everyone involved. Too often, the idea of “winning” becomes much more important to many divorcing or unmarried parents. As a result, the child’s best interests take a back seat to the desires of the adults.

While most such cases begin with the adults wanting what is best for the children, the situation can deteriorate quickly, and former spouses partners may refuse to negotiate reasonably. Even the smallest comment can set off intense emotional responses. The allocation of parental responsibilities can be an extremely difficult situation to navigate properly, as failure to do could have long-term effects on your children and your relationship with them.

When you and your former partner are trying to develop a parenting arrangement, there are some mistakes you will want to avoid, including:

#1. Letting Your Anger Take Control

The messy details of your relationship and divorce should have no bearing on your custody agreement. The court does not really care why your relationship is ending. All that matters to the court is that your child’s best interests are protected.

With that in mind, do not make negative comments about your spouse—or partner—in front of your children. You should avoid passive aggressive or overtly disparaging social media posts. Anything you write, say, or post, could be used against you during the proceedings.

#2. Denying Parenting Time to the Other Parent

Aside from a legitimate emergency or a reasonable fear for your child’s safety, you have no right to refuse to allow the other parent to spend reasonable time with your child. This is true even if the other parent is behind on child support payments. The courts in Illinois do not look favorably on a person who intentionally creates obstacles for the other parent. The ideal parenting plan would give both parents reasonable access to the child and would foster healthy parent-child relationships.

# 3. Refusing to Be a Team Player

Your child does not deserve to suffer while you and the other parent sort out your differences. In the midst of your dispute, you cannot afford to lose track of obligations or scheduling commitments that your child has made. Even if you and your former partner struggle to communicate, it is not fair to make your child miss school events or recreational activities.

#4. Allowing the Battle to Drag On Forever

Developing a parenting plan may begin fairly easily and then, without warning, the negotiations could fall apart. The other parent may become angry or hostile, and you may want to respond in kind. This is a serious mistake.

Instead, seize the opportunity to present yourself as a mature, responsible adult who is focused on meeting your child’s needs. Remove yourself from the situation, if you must, to avoid saying something you will regret, and do not let your anger get the best of you.

#5. Moving or Changing Jobs

When you are trying to create a workable parenting plan, it is not the best time to move to a new home or to get a different job without a good reason. Illinois courts place a high value on stability and predictability for a child’s life, and moving your child to a new neighborhood or school district could be very disruptive. On the other hand, if you are making changes to demonstrate your commitment to your child’s well-being—moving to a better part of town or taking a job that pays substantially more, for example—your actions are likely to be viewed more favorably.

If you are or soon will be involved in any type of legal proceeding related to parental responsibilities or parenting time, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. Call 708-518-8200 for a free consultation at Kezy & Associates today.