Shared custody, also known as co-parenting, has become the new standard for many divorces in Illinois. Kids benefit from having both of their parents involved in their lives, and parents benefit from the equal sharing of parental responsibilities and the ability to stay close with their kids.
Unfortunately, such co-parenting efforts can be substantially more difficult for people in certain professions when compared with others. Front-line workers and first responders such as firefighters, police officers, nurses, paramedics and doctors often have unpredictable schedules and long shifts.
While those factors may complicate custody arrangements in a pending Illinois divorce, they certainly don’t prevent a parent from fully sharing custody with their ex.
Demanding jobs call for flexibility and cooperation
For divorcing parents who share children, the best thing they can do in a divorce is to put the kids first. The children will generally benefit from reduced acrimony and fighting between their parents, which means that you and your ex should try as much as possible to get along and support each other.
When you have a demanding, front-line career, part of that support may be flexibility when it comes to scheduling parenting time. After all, you may work exhausting 12-hour shifts and sometimes get stuck at work because of unusually high need or someone not arriving in time to relieve you from work.
Provided that your ex is willing to make changes and let you switch days as necessary due to work demands and the need for rest after a long shift, it could be possible for you to maintain almost equally-shared custody without requiring that you take a step back from your job.
Create a parenting plan that addresses your family’s unique needs
While consensual cooperation is the ideal, it’s also usually advisable to enshrine certain agreements, like the agreement to allow work-related parenting time rescheduling, in a written parenting plan to prevent one parent from later backing out of a verbal agreement.
Your parenting plan needs to include rules that address the demands of your job and how they might sometimes impact your ability to be available for parenting time. Having agreements about communication, make-up parenting time and conflict resolution can also all help you be better co-parents after a divorce.