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Family courts in Illinois look out for the best interests of the child, as do most parents. Most would consider pulling your kids into a battle as something that would not be in the best interests of your children.

Research has shown that high levels of conflict—both during and after the divorce—between parents contribute to poorer adjustment in children. Finding a way for both of you to agree and avoid litigation will spare your children unnecessary drama. Alternative dispute resolution methods such as collaborative divorce and mediation can offer a way to stay out of the courtroom and promote positive communication, leading to an agreement you both can live with.

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

After a split, emotions are raw, trust can be hard to come by and tempers can flare. But setting these aside to focus on what’s best for your children will allow you to work together to arrive at a schedule without fighting or litigation. Here are some things to keep in mind for your negotiations:

  • Prepare: Know the Illinois child custody laws and have an attorney that can help craft a parenting plan that fits your unique situation.
  • Take a deep breath: Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Be calm and polite as you remember this is for your kids.
  • Be flexible: Being flexible will help you reach the agreement that works for your family.
  • Be careful of rules you suggest: This is where karma may come in. If you propose rules that make life difficult for the other parent, chances are they will end up being difficult for you as well.
  • Stick to your plan: You’ll want to follow the agreed-upon plan and communicate when something comes up or circumstances change. OurFamilyWizard.com is a helpful site for co-parenting that offers tools for coordinating custody schedules, splitting expenses and sharing your children’s health records.

Determining allocation of parental responsibilities—as Illinois refers to custody and visitation—can be a contentious process. However, with both spouses agreeing to put the needs of the children first can go a long way to avoid battles and the emotional tolls that can result.