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Scott B. Meyer Attorney at Law
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Shared parental responsibility is almost always best for the kids

Divorce is typically a trying time for everyone in your family, but it can be particularly difficult for children. While kids at different developmental stages will react differently to the stress of parental divorces, the overall experience is still likely one of the most difficult things they will experience before adulthood.

As a loving parent, you probably want to help your child understand the divorce, process their emotions and move on to a healthier future. Some well-intentioned parents get the idea that asking the family courts to award them the full allocation of parental rights and responsibilities in the divorce will make things better for the kids.

Even if you have always been the primary caregiver or have a closer bond with your children than your spouse does, chances are good that the courts will still expect you to share parental rights and responsibilities with your ex after the divorce. That is because research makes it clear that the long-term involvement of both parents usually leads to the best outcomes after a divorce.

The focus should always be on what will be best for the kids

There was a time when the courts in most states viewed shared custody as disruptive and difficult for children. It is certainly true that moving back and forth between households and parents can add some stress to a child's life.

However, if the alternative is effectively alienation from one parent, that stress is probably better than the loneliness and social isolation that results from not having a relationship with one. As difficult as it may be to interact with your ex, if you can acknowledge that it is in the best interest of the children, you might find it easier to tolerate the stresses of shared parental rights and responsibilities.

Only rare cases lead to one parent's exclusion

When the Illinois family courts divvy up parental rights and responsibilities in a divorce, the guiding consideration is what will be best for the kids, not what the parents prefer. Creating a parenting plan that addresses everything from the holidays to summer vacation will make it easier for you and your ex to work together for the benefit of your kids after the divorce.

However, there are circumstances in which the courts will not want to allocate parental rights and responsibilities to one of the parents. Typically, these situations involve either abuse or neglect. A history of abuse or a record of obvious mental instability, significant addiction or problems with abandoning your family, could all impact how the courts choose to split up responsibilities between parents.

In most other divorces, unless one parent effectively abandons the children, the parents will end up sharing the rights and responsibilities that come from bringing new lives into the world.

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