For some Illinois parents, dealing with child custody can be one of the most emotionally and practically challenging aspects of divorce. Joint custody or visitation schedules can be difficult because the parent will no longer have full-time access to the children. However, there are some guidelines that can help parents develop more successful co-parenting experiences. They should start by keeping the child’s best interests in the forefront at all times.

While a parent may not be interested in connecting with their former spouse shortly after the divorce is finalized, the same is generally not true of the children. Both exes are still their beloved parents, regardless of why the marriage ended. This means that it is important for a divorced parent to encourage the children’s communication with the other parent and work to support their emotional and physical connection. Of course, in cases of abuse or neglect, this does not apply. For the majority of families, however, both sets of parent-child relationships must be nurtured.

Communication and scheduling can be a challenge for co-parents. A shared calendar posted in each house or connected through an online service can help to make it clear when children are to be with each parent. Having an organized parenting plan and a schedule in advance will help to avoid misunderstandings and frustration. In addition, written communication like email can provide a record of agreements and understandings in a way that voice communication does not.

When a parent thinks about divorce, concerns about custody issues can provoke a great deal of fear and anxiety. A family law attorney can work with a divorcing parent to protect the parent-child bond and achieve a fair custody agreement and parenting plan.