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Considering identity during child custody negotiations

For many Illinois parents, a primary focus during a divorce is how to divide parenting rights and responsibilities. While moving through the child custody process, it's easy to overlook the role that identity will play in each parent's life after the divorce is made final. Failing to address the issue can lead to negative consequences for both parent and child. 

Each spouse takes on an identity within their marriage. Being a "husband" or "wife" relates not only to the marriage, but also to the role each party plays as a parent. Understanding those role and making adjustments is an important part of moving forward as single parents. 

For example, it's not uncommon for one parent to take on responsibility for coordinating with a child's teachers and school administrators. Whether it's PTA meetings, parent/teacher conferences or volunteering at the school, one parent usually handles these things and reports necessary information back to the other parent. When a divorce occurs, the parent who was not directly involved with the school can suddenly become out of the loop. 

Another example involves a child's social interactions. Parents often don't fully appreciate the connections that occur due to their child's social life, whether that is with the parents of their child's friends or the many other people who interact with a child, like coaches, tutors or mentors. Here again, parents who allowed their spouse to manage these connections can quickly lose touch with those contacts after a divorce. 

Divorce and child custody require a great deal of attention, and it can be challenging to cover all the bases. However, when it comes to an Illinois spouse's identity, taking the time to think about the issue is important. It's possible to make adjustments that facilitate ongoing relationships, but that takes time and attention. 

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