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What Happens When Extracurricular Activities Interfere with Parenting Time

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When extracurricular activities interfere with parenting time schedules, parent communication, flexibility, and co-parenting apps can simplify conflicts. Parenting plans are designed to help divorced parents share in time and activities with their children. A child custody lawyer can help coparents resolve disputes and revise parenting plans. 

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How Parenting Time Can Affect Extracurricular Activities

When parents divorce in Illinois, the court establishes a parenting plan that spells out the legal rights of each parent. The court must make its decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. In friendly and uncontested divorce cases, parents can sit down and work out an agreement between themselves or with an Illinois custody lawyer who can create a parenting plan that fits the needs of the children.

Establishing a parenting plan after a divorce can be complicated, especially in a contested divorce. The majority of parenting plans provide for joint legal custody or shared physical custody. To qualify as shared physical custody, both parents must have significant periods of parenting time with the child. The amount of parenting time doesn’t have to be equally divided between each parent, but the non-residential parent must spend a designated amount of time with the child.

Extracurricular Activities Should Be Included in the Parenting Plan

When parents share physical custody and significant time with their children, extracurricular activities can become an issue, especially with school-age children and teens who participate in school and sports activities. To prevent conflicts, parents should include provisions regarding extracurricular activities, such as: 

  • Open communication to discuss activities
  • Flexible parenting schedules regarding activities
  • Activity sign-up designations
  • Changes in activity schedules
  • Transportation to and from activities
  • Responsibility for extracurricular activity expenses
Child Custody Attorney Denise Erlich

If parents can’t communicate or agree on how to handle extracurricular activities for their children, a child custody lawyer can help with mediation and changes to the legal parenting plan. In the absence of an agreement or court order, neither parent can force the other to take the child to any activity during his or her parenting time.

Adjusting the Parenting Agreement

When an Illinois legal parenting plan is established through the court, both parents are expected to follow the guidelines set forth in that plan. If one or both parents want to adjust the parenting agreement, they can file a written agreement through an Illinois custody lawyer, who can make sure legal changes to the agreement align with court regulations.

Parenting Plan Guidelines are meant to help establish agreements between unmarried parents that provide for the specific needs of the children. Parenting plans are focused on the best interests of the children and giving the children meaningful, frequent, and ongoing interactions with both parents. Parenting plan components deal with important family matters that may have a significant impact on children and family dynamics.

Common reasons for adjusting the parenting agreement include:

Relocating with Children

In Illinois custody-ordered arrangements, relocation is defined as a move at such a distance that would substantially interfere with the co-parent’s ability to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child.

When parents have joint custody or shared parental responsibilities and rights to make decisions for the child, the parent seeking the move must make adjustments to the parenting agreement. The parent can apply for primary custody through the court. If the parent gets primary physical custody, he or she can file a request for permission to relocate.

If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, the court will likely appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate whether relocating is in the best interests of the child. If possible, a parent seeking to relocate should contact an Illinois family lawyer well in advance of the intended move to get legal advice and discuss what needs to be done.

Aging Children

Parenting plans usually relate to divorced parents with young children and teens under the age of 18. Under Illinois law, when a person reaches the age of 18, he or she is considered to be an adult. Once a child becomes 18, he or she becomes legally responsible for his or her own well-being and visitation choices.

Child Safety Concerns

When a divorced parent has child safety concerns about the other parent, adjusting the parenting agreement may be necessary to protect the child. If a parent is abusive, addicted to alcohol or drugs, develops a mental illness, or develops a serious medical condition, supervised visitation may be awarded in the best interests of the child. This allows the child to see the parent through supervised parenting time and protects the child from potential harm. 

If child safety concerns are suspected, the court will require evidence to establish proof. To order supervised visitation, the court must believe that the parent’s conduct will put the child’s mental, moral, or physical health at significant risk or impair the child’s physical or emotional development. If supervised visitations are awarded, the parenting agreement will be changed and a third party will be appointed to supervise visits in the home or a court-approved public place.

Tips for Making It Work

Divorce is difficult for parents and children, but there are ways to make it easier on everyone. In a divorce or custody action, a judge will enter a court order which incorporates a schedule for visitation, as well as the division of other parenting duties and responsibilities. Here are some tips that can make shared parenting duties easier and help children adjust to shared parenting schedules.

Communicate with the Other Parent

When co-parenting and sharing child responsibilities, open communication with the other parent can solve a lot of conflicts that arise with schedules. If changes are made to extracurricular activity schedules for school events, sports activities, and field trips, the assigned parent may not have time to rearrange his or her schedule, especially on short notice. Having the option to call or message the other parent to fill in will make things easier and less stressful for the parent and the child.

Map Out a Schedule

Parents can map out a typical daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule of the child’s planned extracurricular activities, then decide which parent handles certain activities. This gives each parent a chance to look at his or her own schedule for work duties and other obligations before agreeing to transportation to and from the event, supervision during the event, related errands, and meals.

Use Co-Parenting Apps

Co-parenting apps are effective tools that can help parents build better communication and simplify co-parenting responsibilities during and after divorce. Co-parenting apps are designed to allow parents to do a number of things quickly that they may not be able to do with a phone call or an in-person conversation. Technology makes it easy to:

  • Map out family schedules
  • Communicate schedule changes
  • Track daily activities
  • Track child-related expenses
  • Set up a family budget
  • Send alerts for family emergencies

For added security, technology for co-parenting apps ensures that shared messages can not be edited, deleted, or retracted by either party. While co-parenting apps vary in technological features and prices, there are many choices for parental needs and budgets. In some cases, the use of co-parenting apps may even be ordered by the court for parenting plans.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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