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Most Common Co-Parenting Disputes


Published on August 25th, 2021

Disputes over the “right” way to raise children can heat up quickly between parents, and continue long after the relationship between parents ends. When you share parenting responsibilities with an ex, disagreements as minor as dressing a child for school can lead to arguments that are even more tense and difficult than the arguments that occurred when the parties were together. The decision to separate likely will not put an end to the presence of these disputes unless both parties make a conscious effort to work together to resolve the issues.

Even parents who get along after their relationships end can face strong disagreements over how to raise their children. This is why it is imperative that co-parents  address medical care, educational enrollment, religious practices, and selection of extracurricular activities before  tensions rise and these disputes become more complex. Additionally, the establishment of  mutually agreed-upon guidelines will help protect children so they don’t pay the price emotionally for their parents’ inability to co-parent.

Different Parenting Styles

Many soon-to-be parents fail to discuss childrearing before having their child, often assuming their individual views are more aligned than they prove to be. Parties may agree that children need discipline, but that doesn’t mean a set of parents will agree on the best way to discipline a child, such as what constitutes an appropriate punishment. Disagreements over proper bedtimes, meals, and activities for children can be just as contentious. It is best for parties to remember that normal disagreements in parenting styles and all basic decision making for children can become even more contentious when the parents live in separate households.

Disagreements Over Parenting Time and Responsibilities

The allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time (formerly known as custody) is often the most sensitive issue in family law cases involving minor children. This process has two basic components: allocation of decision-making and allocation of parenting time. Allocation of decision-making responsibilities encompasses four categories: medical care, educational decisions, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Following the separation of the parents, the parent who is exercising his or her parenting time  is entitled to his or her approach to day-to-day parenting decisions during that parenting time – a fact that many parents continue to struggle with and acknowledge long after an allocation judgment and parenting plan is entered.

The desire to have more parenting time is another common request of a parent that is not immediately resolved. If you are separated or going through a divorce, Illinois courts may require that you and the other party to participate in mediation to attempt to reach an agreement. Be sure to discuss your concerns over parenting time or allocation of parental responsibilities with your attorney so you remain as informed as possible about the various terms of your rights as a parent.

Moving a Minor Child Out of State

Parents often face the need to relocate for new jobs, better economic opportunities, to be closer to family, or another reason of importance to them. But that parent’s wish to relocate may not sit well with the other parent, especially if it means traveling farther to see their child or disrupting the child’s education. If not handled delicately, and legally, relocating with a minor child can lead to highly contentious disputes that further complicate a co-parenting relationship and may seriously affect the well-being of the minor child.

There are important legal issues to consider if you or your ex anticipate moving. Parents who wish to move a minor child out of state typically must first notify the court in advance and obtain the consent of the other parent or permission from the court. Having a parenting plan in place that anticipates such changes can help resolve issues so that neither party feels blindsided by the other party’s plan to relocate.

Splitting the Holidays

Holidays hold a special place in everyone’s hearts and therefore are an unsurprising point of contention among parties coparenting. Perhaps your children look forward to Christmas at their paternal grandparent’s home, but your ex wants to take them on vacation with a new significant other. Opinions about how and where to spend important holidays can be highly personal, particularly when young children are involved. Involving children in arguments about how to spend holidays will only take away from the importance of the holidays for the children and make matters worse.

The holidays can pose an extra challenge to those co-parenting, which is why it is so important to set holiday schedules in place as soon as you separate from your ex. This conversation can begin at any time and a temporary schedule can be put in place during pending litigation and a final schedule incorporated into your allocation judgment and parenting plan.

Alternative Dispute Resolution May Help in Illinois Divorce Cases

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can be an economical way for parties to meet the best possible settlement for their family, whether initially, during the pendency of litigation, or for issues that arise after settlement. When co-parents struggle with issues like those outlined above, ADR is a way to help them work together to find the solution that makes both parties feel they are active participants in the outcome of their separation.

You can avoid some of these common co-parenting pitfalls if you establish a plan to help you and your ex problem-solve when issues arise, such as attending ADR or mediation. Having problem-solving mechanisms in place provides both parents with techniques for discussing parenting issues calmly and making decisions together under stressful conditions.

Davis Friedman’s top-rated lawyers are adept at navigating clients through the complexities of shared decision-making and general coparenting to arrive at the best possible resolution. If you need help addressing a current or potential co-parenting dispute and want to know about your options, contact our law firm online or call us at 312-782-2220.

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