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How Can COVID-19 Impact Parenting Time in Illinois Divorces?

Posted on in Divorce

Kendall County divorce attorney parenting time

The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone’s life over the past year, albeit in different ways. Although vaccines have started being distributed, there are still restrictions in place, including here in Illinois. Stores, restaurants, and bars are limited to the number of patrons they can have indoors. As a result, many employees in the service industry are working at reduced hours or may even still be furloughed. Those individuals who work in office buildings are likely still performing their jobs remotely from home and utilizing video conferencing technology in place of in-person meetings. Likewise, the majority of students are in a virtual or hybrid learning environment. The consequences of COVID-19 may also be impacting parenting time arrangements for divorced couples. As a parent, it can be challenging to co-parent with your ex-spouse regarding any child-related matter during these uncertain times. Therefore, it is important to work together and understand when a parenting time schedule may need changing in order to maintain your children’s health and well-being.   

What Is Included in a Parenting Plan?

In Illinois, divorcing spouses who have children must create a parenting plan before the divorce decree is finalized and issued. This legal document addresses certain child-related issues, such as who and how decisions will be made regarding their living arrangements, education, religion, and medical care. It is important to note that the term child custody is now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities under Illinois divorce law. 

A parenting plan typically outlines the following after a couple divorces:

  • Where the children will live

  • The amount of time the children will spend with each parent

  • How each parent receives important information about the children

  • How the children are transported for parenting time (visitation)

Visitation Concerns During a Pandemic

There is no denying the physical toll the coronavirus has taken on so many, but it has also put a strain on people financially and emotionally. With health and safety regulations constantly changing and the uncertainties that come with that, it is understandable that even the most civil co-parents may struggle to co-parent effectively these days. Regarding parenting time schedules as outlined in a parenting plan, each parent is usually designated certain days to spend time with their children. For example, one parent may have the kids one entire week, and then the next week they go to their other parent’s house. However, if a parent or a child is exposed to or contracts the virus, health officials recommend a quarantine period to avoid spreading the illness to others. This can disrupt a normal visitation routine, so parents must communicate with each other about possible exposure to COVID-19. In these situations, one parent may need to keep the children at his or her house for an extended time, or longer than usual. 

Although parents may have different outlooks on the virus, it is crucial that they are on the same page when it comes to keeping their children safe and healthy. This means enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing if they go to the store or visit other family members or friends. 

During the pandemic, those employees who are considered essential have been allowed to go to work, which includes healthcare, municipal, and construction workers. However, a lot of daycare centers have been closed, which directly affects childcare for many parents. In some cases, both parents may agree to temporarily change their parenting time order if one parent is currently unemployed or is working from home. In these scenarios, the parent who is home can watch younger kids who are not in school or supervise older kids who are e-learning. 

In some situations, a parent who is looking for work may find a new job out of state and decide to relocate, which would impact any existing parenting time schedule. He or she may also petition the court for relocation with the children. A judge will make all decisions based on what is in the children’s best interests when determining if a change to a current divorce order is appropriate. 

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Life after a divorce when you have children can be difficult under any circumstances, but even more so during a global health crisis. Emily Rapp at McSwain Nagle Giese & Rapp, P.C. will take the time to thoroughly review your case to help you determine what is in your children’s best interests. Our knowledgeable Geneva, IL family law attorneys will advise you on whether a parenting time order modification may be the best course of action. Call our office today at 630-402-0185 to schedule a free consultation.




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