When Illinois parents of young children end their marriage, they need to create consistent rules between their households. Children need this degree of stability after the upheaval of a divorce. Before sitting down to discuss these rules, parents should think about what they are willing to compromise on and what rules they can be flexible about. Older children may want to join this meeting and give some input into what the rules should be.
There are resources that can help parents reach an agreement. Family law courts, attorneys and therapists may all have recommendations for parenting classes. These classes may impress upon a reluctant parent the dangers of inconsistent rules between households. Such classes might also establish parenting norms. Another option is a mediator who can help talk parents through their conflict to reach an agreement.
If parents are unable to reach a compromise, they might need to take the matter before a judge. The disadvantage here is that once parents return to court, they have far less control of the situation. The judge might make a decision that neither parent is happy with. Therefore, it is generally best for parents to work with one another to create a parenting agreement with consistent rules.
Parents will also have a choice to negotiate child custody and visitation or have a judge do so. Letting this decision go to litigation holds the same risks as letting a judge decide about other parenting issues. Parents may be happier with an arrangement for custody and visitation that they work out themselves. A parent who decides to fight for sole custody should keep in mind that usually, children benefit from spending time with both parents. Parents might want to discuss serious issues affecting custody, such as domestic abuse, with an attorney to determine how to proceed.