Parents in Illinois who share physical custody of their children after divorce face a number of co-parenting challenges, but they may be able to overcome them by focusing on the best interests of the child. It can be hard for parents to accept that an ex-spouse can also be a good parent, but the child benefits from this relationship. Parents should refrain from bad-mouthing one another in front of the child.

Co-parents need a method of communication that works for them, and that might be email, phone, texting or apps specifically designed for divorced parents. Parents should try to choose their battles wisely, avoiding conflict about small things and addressing only the most important issues with the other parent. When creating the custody schedule, parents should take their own commitments and the child’s needs into account. Younger children may need more frequent contact with each parent, and a 2-2-3 schedule that allows each parent to have more days with the child on one week and switch on the following week may be appropriate for them.

Over the years, parents may need to review the custody schedule. For older children, alternate weeks or even a 2-2-5 schedule can work better depending on the child’s needs and schedule. Older children may want input into the custody schedule, but parents should balance this with what they know about the child’s best interests.

Reaching an agreement on child custody and creating a schedule can be a difficult process for parents. If they are struggling with conflict, parents might be able to reach an agreement through mediation. Where the litigation process is adversarial, the focus in mediation is to find a cooperative solution. It may also lay a healthier groundwork for co-parenting, but if mediation fails or the situation is too contentious to even begin, litigation remains an option.