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How Does Parenting Time Work with a Non-Traditional Work Schedule?

How Does Parenting Time Work with a Non-Traditional Work Schedule?

By: M. Scott Gordon

When a married couple decides to divorce and has children from the marriage, that couple will need to consider issues of parenting time and parental responsibilities. For parents that have non-traditional work schedules, the prospect of developing a parenting plan or having the court allocate parental responsibilities can be anxiety-inducing and frustrating. For instance, those parents might be wondering: will I lose the ability to share equal parenting time simply because of my non-traditional work schedule? Or, those parents might have concerns about whether the court will think that equal parenting time is not in the child’s best interest because that parent has a non-traditional work schedule that does not give him or her significant time at home with the child during non-school hours and weekends.

We want to discuss parenting time and non-traditional work schedules for families in the Chicago area.

Developing a Parenting Plan When You Have a Non-Traditional Work Schedule

Many different professions have non-traditional work schedules. For example, parents in the Chicago area who work in the healthcare field as nurses or emergency physicians may be required to work long shifts that may be overnight shifts. Similarly, parents who work for the Chicago Fire Department or the Chicago Police Department may have odd-hour shifts, as do many mothers and fathers who have second jobs in the fast-food industry. Can these parents be penalized—meaning, can they be denied “normal” parenting time because of a non-traditional work schedule that might make it more difficult to perform caretaking functions?

Generally speaking, parents with non-traditional work schedules are not likely to be denied parenting time due to a hectic job. Often, one of the easiest ways to ensure time with your children is to work with the other parent to develop a parenting plan. Under Illinois law, when parents come to an agreement about parenting time and parental responsibilities, the court can agree to it. Through a parenting plan, the parents may be able to agree that the parent with the non-traditional work schedule will have the child for three or four days every week, which will vary with the parent’s schedule. Or, if the parent typically works all weekends, the parents might be able to agree that the parent with the non-traditional schedule can always have the child on weekdays, while the other parent will always have weekends (and perhaps a certain number of weekdays).

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities When One Parent Has a Non-Traditional Work Schedule

Even if the parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will enter an allocation judgment that includes parenting time, taking into account the best interests of the child. The law makes clear that it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with both parents unless there are issues of violence or safety. As such, simply because a parent has a non-traditional work schedule should not affect the court’s decision to allocate parenting time.

The court may consider a different type of schedule, however, that takes into account the parent’s work schedule. As we noted above, allocating parenting time only on weekdays, for example, may be a solution to a non-traditional work schedule. The court typically will consider each situation on a case-by-case basis and will allocate parental responsibilities—including parenting time—in a manner that makes sense for that particular family situation.

Contact a Chicago area Parenting Time Lawyer

Do you have questions about parenting time and non-traditional work schedules? A Chicago area parenting time attorney can assist you. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates today to discuss your case.