As the old song says, breaking up is hard to do, especially when the breakup affects the whole family. When you divorce, your children will not only have to cope with a new chapter in their lives but will have to become used to dividing their lives between you and their other parent.
One of the first challenges for the children will be adapting to two homes. How well they do it will depend on the kind of parenting plan you put in place.
Avoiding a bare-bones plan
Some couples think that if they make a pickup and delivery schedule for transferring their children between households, life should just resume from the point where the divorce put a hold on it. They do not realize that without proper forethought and careful oversight, the children could feel their lives are rudderless. They may not receive timely dental or medical care. They might not be able to participate in activities they like or spend enough time with friends. Most of all, they might miss out on quality time with their parents.
Elements of a well-designed plan
In a post-divorce atmosphere, your offspring need a safety net. Children tend to thrive on routine, so that should be a priority at both homes; there should be similar schedules regarding when to do homework, when to eat, have family time and play time, and when to go to bed. Your plan should have a clear outline of parental responsibility regarding everything from transportation between homes, to who pays for what, to how disagreements should be managed. All the while, you must reassure your children of your love for them and their importance in your lives.
In developing a parenting plan, Illinois law requires that you and your spouse must first engage in the mediation process to settle issues of responsibility and come to agreement regarding the management of parenting decisions. If the process fails, you will have to go to trial with evidence such as psychological evaluations, teacher observations, testimony by people who know your family and more. Creating an effective parenting plan takes careful consideration and input from both parents, but of course it is worth the effort to ensure the wellbeing of your children.