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Illinois Supreme Court ‘Parenting Coordinator’ Fights for Kids With Divorced Parents

When marriages dissolve and divorces become a reality, emotions and fights are common especially when kids are involved.

“All I could do was think of my kids and not be selfish. There’s a lot of times I wanted to be but I thought of them,” said Janna McLaughlin.

Janna is a mother of two whose marriage ended 20 years ago. She says although her divorce was quick, it was an uphill battle at times, especially when trying to keep her kids out of the crossfire.

“A lot of times people don’t realize how much it’s affecting their kids,” said Janna.

She says that’s why it’s important someone fights for the child.

This is exactly what the Illinois Supreme Court hopes to do with the “parenting coordinator” program. It gives divorcing couples a way to resolve conflicts that involve the children.

Some of these minor disputes could involve situations like fighting over their child’s haircut, doctor appointments, pick-up times, sports games and many others.

As someone who’s experienced the court system, Jana says she’s seen how divorce impacts kids through angry outbursts or anxiety attacks.

“Disputes over things that are not really legal issues like when to get the child’s haircut, who should be the one taking to the doctor’s appointments,” said Laura Hunt, a family attorney in Rockford.

“I think more people need to have that. I see too many people trying to do things on their own and getting into bitter battles,” said Janna.

She didn’t have a judge-appointed mediator, but she did reach out to a therapist who helped her understand her feelings and not point raged-filled fingers at her husband.

“My counselor, one of the first sessions that we had made me make a list of, kind of like my flaws,” said Janna.

She also says a therapist will tell you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear.

“A parent coordinator can come in and (say) ‘Have you thought about this? Have you looked at it from this perspective? You know, what if there’s a third way of attacking this problem,’” Hunt explains.

“Do your best because you just have no idea what the future holds and you know I’m glad I’m not living with regret,” said Janna.

At the moment, Cook County is the only county in Illinois that has implemented the “parenting coordinator” program. Hunt says she hopes the 17th District will consider this program for divorced couples in Winnebago and Boone counties.

Source : 23 Wifr