Families across Illinois and the Chicagoland area are busy preparing to gather with friends and family to give thanks, enjoy a homemade meal and take part in the annual rituals that accompany Thanksgiving Day. For individuals who have recently divorced, this Thanksgiving holiday will likely be very different from those of the past. While the absence of a spouse may bring sadness, for divorced parents it’s often the absence of a shared child that is the most difficult change with which to cope.
Today, more family courts and divorcing parents are favoring shared or joint child custody arrangements. This trend is a great departure from how child custody matters were previously handled with one parent, almost always the mother, being awarded primary physical child custody.
Splitting parenting time equally, or almost equally, with an ex-spouse can be challenging. Coordinating a child’s and one’s own life around pickups and drop-offs can be confusing and disorienting for all involved parties. Additionally, a child may struggle to adjust to two different homes and sets of expectations and rules. There are also likely to be communication mishaps or breakdowns between divorced parents which can exacerbate an already tenuous situation.
Despite the challenges that accompany joint custody situations, many parents who share custody with an ex-spouse or partner agree that joint custody is the best possible option for their child and family. When possible, a child benefits greatly from having the love, involvement and attention of two parents. A child doesn’t stop needing both of his or her parents just because the parents break up or divorce.
While there are certainly challenges that come with splitting a child’s time equally between parents, most parents would likely agree it’s the best option for both their child and family.
Source: The Inquirer, “Holidays apart: A divorced Thanksgiving (and Christmas),” Nov. 21, 2014