Just as every family and every divorce is different, every child is different as well. Any mom or dad with more than one kid can tell you that each child has their own strengths, skills and needs that require different parenting techniques.
A parenting time plan is no exception to that rule. Illinois family court always looks for parenting plans after divorce to cater to the best interests of the child. That can change for each child, especially if there is a large age gap between your kids or if one of your children has special needs. When allocating parenting time, it is possible that you and your former spouse should consider a different schedule for each child.
For each child, you and your former spouse will have several things to discuss to build the right parenting plan for your family. Important factors can be:
- Your child’s age and maturity level
- Your child’s wishes
- The location and living situation of each parent
- Particular health (including mental health) concerns for each child
Common parenting time schedules
In Illinois and Wisconsin, both parents receive parenting time unless one parent presents a safety risk to the children. Most court orders try to make this time as equal as possible for the health and development of the kids.
For younger children, parenting time may switch over every few days. One common plan is the 3-4-4-3 schedule. In this plan, the child would spend three days with her mother, four with her father, four with her mother, and then three with her father.
For older children, your parenting plan may allocate entire weeks at a time with one parent before switching. In the middle and high school years, school breaks and other education concerns can also affect the parenting time schedule. Older children also tend to have stronger opinions about their living arrangements. It is acceptable, and even encouraged, to take these wishes into account as long as they do not present a danger to the child.