With the new parenting time law in the state of Illinois, many divorcing parents think about parenting time as it relates to child support rather than what may be in the best interest of the child. Because the amount of child support a parent will pay is contingent upon how many overnights they have with a child, a bit of a tug of war has emerged when trying to agree on parenting time arrangements.
Bottom line, it is important to work together for the best interests of a child even if that means that one parent will have more overnights initially while the other pays a bit more child support – modifications to the parenting time agreement can be made as a child grows older so parenting time and child support is not set in stone. Although having to pay more child support may seem financially punitive to a parent who gives up overnight stays, it is important to consider that both parents demanding overnight stays can be more costly to the family unit in general.
Overnight visits may require both parents to rent larger apartments instead of one parent having a studio. Both parents may have to purchase and maintain a home to ensure the children are safe and secure instead of one having less expensive accommodations. There are certainly the additional costs of providing meals around the clock, entertainment, transportation and the cost of a babysitter that factor into overnight visits that can be saved when parents reach more flexible parenting time arrangements. Looking at the big picture can help parents make the best decisions for their family after a divorce, both financially and otherwise. Again arrangements can be modified as the situation changes – you and your spouse can even legally agree to revisit the parenting time agreement on a periodic basis.
It is important that the parents put the needs of the child before their own and that the parents show a willingness to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent when making decisions regarding parenting time. However, when custody arrangements become contentious and parents cannot reach an agreement, the court may have to step in to make decisions in the child’s best interests. Some of the factors a court might consider include the wishes of the parents, the child’s wishes if they are mature enough to weigh in; who had caretaking responsibility of the child in the months leading up to the divorce; the child’s needs; the distance between each parents home and the difficulty of transporting a child; and any other relevant factors to reach a determination.
It is in both you and your ex spouse’s and your child’s interests to give thoughtful consideration to the parenting time arrangements even if you end up going to court so that you can inform the decision. When you are divorcing and have concerns regarding parenting time arrangements and how it relates to child support in Illinois, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help you work out a plan that benefits all parties. Contact the family law attorneys of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for immediate assistance at 847-680-4970.