Will Remote Schooling Impact Your Parenting Plan in Illinois?

Although the first COVID-19 vaccines are now being administered throughout United States, including Illinois, there are still restrictions in place. Many non-essential businesses are still closed or at reduced capacity. Masks are required in most public places, and social distancing guidelines should be enforced and followed. The majority of students are either 100 percent e-learning or in a hybrid model with limited in-person instruction. For those parents who are divorced or in a co-parenting relationship, this has likely disrupted their normal routines. In some cases, they may be struggling to figure out childcare depending on their work schedule. However, it may be possible to modify an existing divorce orders in Illinois, including child custody and parenting time.   

Illinois Divorce Laws

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, couples can create their own parenting plan when they divorce. This legal document outlines parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation), including holidays and school breaks. This method can be used whether you are divorced or were never married to your child’s other parent. In addition, a parenting plan states who will make decisions for a child and how those decisions will be made. 

These are the main issues an Illinois parenting plan must address: 

  • Where the child will reside
  • The time the child spends with each parent
  • How each parent receives information and records about the child 
  • How the child will be transported between households

In order for an Illinois court to modify an existing parenting order, there must be a “substantial change in circumstances.” This typically refers to a job termination, death of one parent, or a change in the child’s wishes. 

Making Alternate Plans

We have all adjusted to a “new normal” during the coronavirus crisis. It is important for divorced parents to know that Illinois’ executive order regarding COVID-19 restrictions states that transporting kids to and from each parent’s house for parenting time is considered essential travel. Although the children might be remote learning, that does not necessarily mean the parents can work from home, too. If one parent is considered an essential worker such as a nurse, postal worker, truck driver, or police officer, he or she may have to go into a building or travel and may not be able to work remotely. On the other hand, one parent may be allowed to work from home via the computer and Zoom conference calls. For those parents who have younger children, it is important that an adult is home during the day. Previous parenting time schedules most likely did not factor in the kids being home for school during a pandemic. Therefore, many parents have probably had to reconfigure their plans accordingly to maintain the safety and well-being of their minor children. 

For instance, if the parent without the majority of the responsibilities is now permitted to work from home and the other parent has to go into the office, the ex-spouses can work out a new arrangement temporarily so one of them is always around. In addition, if one parent was exposed to the virus, he or she may have to quarantine for a period of time, in which case the kids would likely go stay with their other parents, even if it is not their designated time. Likewise, if a child is exhibiting symptoms of the virus, the other parent should be notified and quarantine per state health guidelines. Flexibility is key during these uncertain times in order to keep the children’s best interests and health in mind. If the parents would like to consider a more permanent change, they can petition the court for a modification of the original divorce order.    

Contact a McHenry County Family Law Attorney

The coronavirus pandemic has affected almost everyone in one way or another. With many parents laid off or working remotely, parenting time schedules may need adjusting. If you and your ex-spouse have concerns about logistics after your Illinois divorce, it is important to seek professional legal guidance. Despite the continuing restrictions in Illinois, the skilled legal team of Prime Law Group, LLC can assist you in person or virtually. A reputable Woodstock divorce lawyer can guide you through the legal process of dissolving your Illinois marriage. Call us today to schedule a confidential consultation at 815-338-2040.