What Is Included in a Parenting Plan in an Illinois Divorce?
There is no question that divorce can be very challenging. However, the divorce process can be especially difficult for parents who will need to make major changes in their lives, address financial concerns, and protect the interests of their children, all while dealing with the strong emotions that come with the end of a marriage. One of the most crucial aspects of any divorce involving children is a parenting plan. This is a legal document that outlines the ways in which parents will share parental responsibilities and address child-related concerns after their marriage has ended. For Illinois parents who are going through the divorce process, it is essential to understand what will be included in their parenting plan.
Required Elements of a Parenting Plan
Within 120 days after a divorce or child custody case begins, parents are required to submit a proposed parenting plan to the court. In most cases, parents will negotiate with each other to create an agreed parenting plan, and after this plan is submitted, it will be reviewed by a judge. If the judge determines that the plan provides for the best interests of the couple's children, the plan will be approved. However, if parents encounter disputes about the terms of their parenting agreement, they may each prepare and submit a plan that details how they believe different issues should be addressed. A hearing or trial may then be held to determine how the differences between the two plans will be resolved.
A parenting plan must address a variety of issues, including:
Allocation of parental responsibilities - This is the legal term used in Illinois for what is commonly known as legal custody of children. A parenting plan will outline each parent's responsibilities regarding decision-making for their children. There are several categories of decision-making, including education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. Responsibility for decisions may be shared, or one parent may be primarily responsible for making certain decisions.
Parenting time - A parenting plan will include a schedule that outlines the specific days and times that each parent will spend with the children. It should detail a regular, daily schedule, as well as a holiday schedule and a vacation schedule.
Communication and dispute resolution - Effective communication is crucial to ensure that ex-spouses can co-parent their children effectively. A parenting plan may specify the preferred communication methods between parents, and it can also outline conflict resolution methods (such as mediation) that will be used if a disagreement arises.
Communication between parents and children - During one parent's parenting time, children may need to communicate with the other parent. A parenting plan may outline the appropriate forms of communication, including the times when parents may call or send messages to children.
Transportation for children - A parenting plan should include details about how children will be transported between parents' homes, as well as when parents will provide transportation at other times, such as for school or activities. This can eliminate confusion and ensure that parents can cooperate to transfer children between their homes.
Parents' right to access information - Both parents will usually be able to have access to important records related to their children, including school records or medical records. A parenting plan should outline each parent's rights in these areas.
Relocation - Situations may arise in the future in which a parent plans to move to a different city, county, or state, and this may require a modification of the parenting plan. A parenting plan will typically require parents to notify each other of planned relocations, and it may also include terms detailing how child custody modifications will be handled in these situations.
Right of first refusal - Parents may agree to include terms in their parenting plan that will address situations where a parent is unavailable during their scheduled parenting time. These terms may require a person to contact the other parent and see if they are available before making other plans for child care.
Contact Our Wheaton Parenting Plan Lawyers
A parenting plan is one of the most crucial components of a divorce in which a couple has children. The terms of this agreement will ensure that parental rights will be protected, and they may also play a role in resolving conflicts in the future and helping parents work together to provide for their children's best interests. At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, our DuPage County child custody attorneys can help negotiate parenting agreements that will allow a couple to move forward successfully following a divorce while providing for their children's needs. To learn more about how we can help address child custody issues, contact our firm at 630-665-7300 and set up a consultation.