The statute in Illinois regarding parentage and divorce cases heavily relies upon the standard of “what is in the best interests of the children” when it comes to important decisions for kids. The Court is obligated to determine what would be best for them. Parents naturally do this, however, in a situation where they are separating from the other parent of their child(ren) they don’t always see this clearly.
This past week I saw a viral photograph of a small child in Disney World. She was wearing shirt with her name on it. She had four adults behind her, wearing matching shirts. One said Mom, another said Step-dad, another said Step-mom, and another said Dad. They all posed together for a picture, and the caption explained that one of the sets of parents took the child to Disney World and secretly invited the other couple to meet them there and surprise the child. These four adults collectively decided that it would be in the best interests of this child for them all to enjoy Disney World with her, together, putting aside their own issues and differences. This is the exception to the rule, but it really should be the norm, and it is exemplary.
I often impress upon clients that their co-parenting relationship is one that will last many years, even beyond the minor child’s minority. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Graduations and other school events are things that still happen after a child turns 18. There are marriages, grandchildren and more, and there simply isn’t enough time in the day for a child to visit everyone they could possibly want to on these occasions after a divorce occurs. Too many parents put the burden on their children to deal with the repercussions of the divorce; when it is the parent who should be actively trying to ensure their child is well-adjusted, comfortable and that their actions are in their children’s best interests.