110 E. Schiller Street, Suite 320, Elmhurst, IL 60126

Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC312-605-4041


Important Considerations for Divorcing Parents in Illinois

 Posted on December 09, 2020 in Children and Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorney parenting time

Coming to the realization that divorce is in your near future is no easy task. Going into your marriage, you likely did not even consider that divorce would be a possibility. Whether you have been married for a few years or a few decades, the pain that comes along with an ending relationship can be like no other. The emotional turmoil can be even greater for divorcing parents. Not only does the decision to divorce involve you and your spouse, but you also have to consider the implications that ending your marriage will have on your kids.

Rarely does anyone come to the conclusion of divorce lightly. Perhaps you have had a challenging relationship for years on end, and you are finally realizing that being apart might actually be better for everyone involved—children included. While watching your parents get divorced is undoubtedly difficult for kids of any age, seeing your parents happier as the dust settles can be an even more important lesson for children: Your happiness in life matters. While the early stages and legal process of your divorce will be challenging as a parent, with the following information in hand, you can enter into the process fully prepared for what is to come.

Relaying the News

The initial conversation that you have with your children about your divorce can often be the most difficult. This is especially true if you have young children who struggle to understand, or if your kids are blindsided and did not see the split coming at all. When you and your spouse decide that it is time to tell your children, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Have the conversation planned: It is crucial that you and your spouse plan out the conversation before sitting down to inform your kids about your decision to divorce. Once your children start to get emotional, things can quickly derail. The conversation should make it clear that you and your spouse are not getting back together, but that you are both still your children’s parents. Planning out your discussion can help you avoid giving mixed messages or confusing your kids further about the status of your relationship.

  2. Sit down as a family: Even though you are getting divorced, you and your spouse will always be connected to each other through your kids. Depending on the level of contention between you both, it may be uncomfortable to have a conversation together, but talking with your kids at the same time shows that you are both still committed as parents. This will also help your kids understand that this was a mutual decision to avoid one parent blaming the other for ending the marriage.

  3. Give specifics about the future: There is no way for you to guarantee all of the details about your future if you are in the beginning stages of the legal divorce process, but you can provide your kids with the information that you have for the near future. For instance, where will your kids be living for now, will they get to see you both regularly, will they still be attending the same school, and more. Some of this information may change as you begin to create your parenting plan, but for now, your kids will feel better if they have some concrete details about the upcoming months.

  4. Be open to questions: Your kids will undoubtedly have questions for you, some of which you may be uncomfortable answering but many of which you should do your best to respond to. They will likely ask you why the divorce is happening. Be prepared to answer this question in a non-blaming way. If either parent begins to point fingers, this can greatly damage your relationship with your child. Your kids will likely have more questions surface as time progresses, so be sure to let them know that you are open to talk if need be.

Creating a Temporary Parenting Plan

Nailing down the details of your divorce can take months, sometimes even years, to finalize. In the meantime, it is important to create a temporary parenting plan to allow parenting time to both you and your spouse and to build a sense of consistency in your children’s lives throughout the proceedings. If you and your spouse have an amicable relationship, you may be able to simply create the basic parenting plan together, naming which days you will each care for your kids. For those with a more contentious relationship, a judge may need to weigh in on the details. The temporary parenting plan will not go as in-depth into the details of your lives, but it will include a parenting schedule and temporary child support payments if necessary. Once your divorce is finalized, you will defer to your formal parenting plan moving forward.

Formulating Your Long-Term Parenting Plan

Your final parenting plan will include much more than where your children are sleeping each night of the week. There are three primary components of a parenting plan: the allocation of parental responsibilities, creating a parenting schedule, and designating child support payments.

The allocation of parental responsibilities designates which parent will have the legal ability to make certain decisions on the child’s behalf. These decisions typically surround the topics of education, health, and religion. In regards to education, this involves making decisions about the schools that the children will attend as well as any tutors or additional help they may need. Health decisions include any medical, dental, and psychological issues that the kids may face. One parent may also be granted the legal right to designate the kids’ religion if this is a factor for your family. For parents with good relationships, it is always advisable to share these decision-making responsibilities, especially when it comes to health questions. If only one parent is legally allowed to make decisions regarding your kids’ healthcare, this could put your children at risk in the instance of an emergency. If, however, one parent is incapable of making decisions in your kids’ best interests, then designating these rights to one parent might be your best option.

Creating a parenting schedule can be an especially challenging part of building a parenting plan. Most parents are used to caring for their children day-in and day-out. Limiting your “parenting time” to a few days each week can be devastating. While it may be a challenge, designating who is the primary custodial parent and when the non-custodial parent will care for your kids is important. This will create a consistent schedule for the children's’ lives and will ensure that each parent is continuing to spend time and build a relationship with their children. Some parents opt for a 50/50 split, while others may have the kids stay at one house throughout the week and spend time with their other parent on the weekends. Having an open discussion about what is best for your children, not just each individual spouse, can make this an easier process. Once it is decided who will take on the role of the custodial parent, child support decisions will follow. 

Financially Supporting Your Kids

It is unrealistic to expect one parent to spend more time and money on their children while the other only spends time with the kids on the weekend. Even if this arrangement was not by choice, the court will likely require the non-custodial parent to provide monthly child support for each child. Illinois courts have a means by which they calculate how much child support is owed from one parent to the other. The court will begin by calculating each parent’s monthly net income, then proceed to add them together to determine the combined monthly income between both parents. Using the state’s schedule of basic child support obligations based on monthly income and number of children, the court will select the appropriate amount. The court will then calculate each parent’s percentage share of the basic child support obligations. 

What About Relocating?

Once your divorce becomes a reality, any decisions regarding your kids will need to be run by your co-parent and the court if your former spouse refuses your request. Many families will consider relocating after their divorce is finalized to have a fresh start. If you are the custodial parent, however, you will need the permission of your co-parent and the court before moving. Depending on how far you intend on moving, your new home may or may not be considered relocation. Illinois law designates the following as relocation:

  1. Moving 25 miles from their previous residence if that home was located in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County

  2. Moving 50 miles from their previous residence if that home was not located in one of the counties listed above

  3. Moving to a new residence that is outside of Illinois and more than 25 miles from their previous residence

For those considering relocating with their children, the noncustodial parent must be notified of the request in writing at least 60 days prior to the intended move date. The written request must include the intended date and address of relocation. The noncustodial can either sign the request, granting permission for the relocation, or petition the request in court. If the request is brought in front of a judge, the court will make a decision about the relocation request by considering what is in the best interests of the children.

Contact an Elmhurst Divorce Attorney for Help

As you can see, divorcing with children is an involved legal process. There are a number of additional considerations tacked on, all of which require legal guidance. At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, we pride ourselves on helping families build a better future for themselves. Our compassionate attorneys will walk you through every step of the process, allowing you to focus on you and your children’s emotional healing. For help with your divorce, contact our DuPage County divorce lawyers at 312-605-4041 to schedule your initial consultation. 







Share this post:
Facebook Twitter
  • cba
  • dcba
  • isba
  • lcba
  • lod
  • super lawyers
  • 10 best
  • asla
  • collaborative
  • expertise
  • AACFL Found Member
  • Fellow of Collaborative Divorce Illinois for 2023
Back to Top