Navigating a divorce or any family separation can be incredibly difficult and only exacerbated when parents are not aligned in the ways in which their children should be raised. As a default, many parents rely on the Allocation of Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities as outlined in Section 602.5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This Section identifies four (4) significant areas: Education, Health, Religion, and Extracurricular Activities. However, as children increase in age, they are afforded access to additional societal privileges.

There are a number of items that parents overlook as discussion topics that tend to be a source of conflict. By way of example, the recent COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront the dependency of computers, iPads, and the internet as key tools in children’s access to education, as remote classrooms became a reality. An unforeseen outcome of increased use of technology due to the remote nature of social interactions led to an increase in social media use by elementary-age children. This provided the perfect opportunity for children to rely on or request to engage with social media platforms including but not limited to Tik Tok and Snapchat. The manner in which children engage with these platforms is at their parent’s discretion and both parents should be aligned in how they would like to monitor their child’s use.

More traditional issues are also commonly forgotten about. Coming of age stories tend to always center the moment your child reaches the age where they can have a cell phone, receive their driver’s permit or license, start to date, or travel to places such as the mall without parental supervision. Often, these are things that both parents should discuss and agree to prior to arriving at a conflict. Even more notable are discussions surrounding political ideology and gender identity. Having the conversations early and often are key to addressing conflict before it has the opportunity to arrive.

Kerease L. Epps, Associate
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