Non-custodial parents (also referred to as NCPs) face a number of challenges during big family transitions such as divorce. Whether you are in an unmarried partnership or are getting ready to go through a divorce or legal separation, if you share a child with someone, chances are you might run into some roadblocks as you navigate the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation).
Parenting time (also known as visitation) is an important part of building and maintaining a healthy relationship with your child. As a part of the divorce process, it is very common for couples to disagree on lifestyle arrangements for their children. For example, disagreements can arise about everything from religious upbringing and school choices to which parent gets to spend time with the child and how often. Typically, parents work with an attorney, the state, and a mediator to put together a parenting plan, which establishes the groundwork for all these issues and creates guidelines for how the child will be brought up following the separation. This is especially helpful for the child, as it provides structure and encourages a safe, stable environment for them after their parents’ relationship ends. Never-married couples having trouble seeing their children also have options for managing their parenting time. The state’s Access and Visitation Program can help with mediation, counseling, enforcement of visitation orders, and much more.
It is not uncommon for newly single parents to struggle financially after a divorce or the end of a relationship. This can make it difficult to provide for yourself as a parent as well as continue to provide for your child and family. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) offers a variety of employment and training programs for non-custodial parents needing assistance in this area. Supervised job searches that utilize structured job search activities as well as something called the “Earnshare” program exist to support NCPs with resources and tools that can help them earn and provide for themselves and their children. Earnshare is a state sponsored program that offers paid on-the-job employment training and is typically referred by the Court and other administrative sources....