What to Consider When Developing a Fair Visitation Schedule

If you are attempting to co-parent with an ex, developing a fair visitation schedule for your children is a top priority. Visitation rights are granted to the non-custodial parent after divorce and child custody determinations have been made. In Illinois, the terms are laid out in a visitation schedule that is determined under the guidelines of the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA). As a parent, there are many things to consider in addition to the law. Below we discuss some of the most important things to think about when developing a visitation schedule.

 

  • Supervised vs. unsupervised visitation

 

Depending on the kind of divorce you went through, it might be necessary to consider whether you want your child to have supervised or unsupervised visitation with their other parent. Unsupervised is the most common type and it allows the non-custodial parent to spend his or her scheduled time with the child without being supervised by a third party. In contrast, supervised visitation is usually court-ordered. This can come into play for several reasons such as: parenting concerns or mental illness, a history of physical abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and if there is a threat of kidnapping.

 

  • The child’s main residence

 

Fighting over custody is stressful enough on its own, so keeping the child in familiar and comfortable surroundings is very important. For this reason it is essential to consider their current main residence. The Illinois courts often split parenting time 50/50 (a.k.a. joint custody, where each parent gets equal time), 80/20 (the child is with one parent 80% of the time and with the other 20% of the time), or somewhere in the middle. While you want to support a positive relationship with both parents, sometimes a 50/50 schedule is stressful on kids that have many school commitments or where their parents live further apart. With an 80/20 or 70/30 schedule the child still maintains a primary residence.

 

  • Age and health of child

 

If your child is very young or has special needs, an additional element is added into developing a visitation schedule. Whoever was the primary caregiver prior to the divorce would likely retain primary custody in order to ensure the best care of the child.

 

  • Location of each parent

 

This is an important consideration because you cannot have a 50/50 visitation schedule if you live far apart. So, when developing a schedule, it is important for each parent to consider where they will be taking up residence. You may have to live close to your ex even if you don’t want to if that’s what would be best for your child.

 

  • Current employment and work history of both parents

 

If both parents have stable employment then this is not much of a concern. Often, one spouse may work part-time or have stopped working altogether when caring for their children. It is usually this parent that would continue to be the primary caregiver, particularly if the children are young or need special help.  

 

  • Child’s preferences

 

In Illinois, children 14 and older may choose which parent to live with, but the judge may overrule this decision if he or she determines the child’s decision is not in their best interests.

Illinois parenting plans also identify how children will spend birthdays, other holidays, and transportation arrangements, so these are also things you should be thinking about when developing a fair visitation schedule.

Any issues involving children are tough, particularly when the child’s life is disrupted by the divorce or separation of their parents. The main goal should be to build positive relationships with both parents and remember not to use your children as a pawn for your benefit in divorce. At Lake Cook Legal Solutions, we have the experience and compassion to help you work through this difficult time. Let us help develop the best plan for you and your children. Contact us today at (847) 387-5559 to see how we can help you.

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Written by Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions has been helping people throughout Lake, Cook, McHenry, and DuPage counties since 2012. We focus our practice on matters involving Illinois families—namely Family Law and Estate Planning.