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630-653-9400

Naperville child custody lawyer parenting planWhen you get a divorce in Illinois, and you have children, you are strongly encouraged to come to an agreement with your spouse about how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be divided between you. The court does not decide these things for you unless you and your spouse cannot come to a mutual agreement (known as a parenting plan), but leaving the decision up to a judge is not always in your family’s best interests. Often, the court will order mediation to assist you and your spouse in coming to an agreement about a parenting plan, which must be filed with the court no longer than 120 days after a petition for the allocation of parental responsibilities is filed. Creating a parenting plan can be tedious, but having all of the right elements in your plan will ensure success when implementing it following the finalization of your divorce.

Court-Required Parenting Plan Elements

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are certain things that must be addressed in a parenting plan. The plan can contain other information pertaining to the care of the children, but it must at least address the following issues:

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Oak Brook divorce attorney co-parenting tipsSummer is every child’s favorite time of the year--they get a break from going to school, waking up early, doing homework, and studying. But for parents, especially divorced parents, summer can prove to be the most challenging time of the year. During the school year, the kids are at school for a good portion of the day, so parenting plans are usually well-regimented and have agreed transition days for kids to move from the care of one parent to the other. But during the summer, everything changes, so it is important to plan ahead to keep the stress at a minimum.

1. Coordinate Your Schedules

While you have likely already scheduled vacation time and trips with your children, you should also work together with your ex-spouse to determine your and your children’s day-to-day schedules. This will help avoid disputes over who gets to spend time with the child and when. Summer months offer more than enough time for everyone to plan their vacations--it is just a matter of coordinating them. 

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Wheaton divorce attorney equal parenting timeDuring divorce, many of the most contentious disputes between spouses involve decisions made about their children, including how they will share parenting time and parental responsibility. For many years, it was presumed that living primarily with one parent was in children’s best interests. However, a number of recent studies have found that it is beneficial for both parents to be closely involved in their children’s lives. With that in mind, many states, including Illinois, have passed or are considering legislation that would presume that children should spend equal amounts of parenting time with each parent following divorce.

Illinois’ Possible Equal Parenting Law

The Illinois House of Representatives is currently considering a bill which would affect the decisions made about parental responsibility and parenting time in divorce cases. HB 4113 would make the following changes to Illinois’ divorce laws: 

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DuPage County divorce attorney parenting planWhen parents decide to end their marriage, they must resolve a number of issues related to their children in order to complete their divorce. The decisions they make will be set down in a parenting plan that will be incorporated into their divorce decree. In Illinois divorce cases, a parenting plan should include:

  • Allocation of parental responsibilities - Illinois law identifies four areas of decision-making responsibility for children: education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. A parenting plan will specify whether each of these areas will be shared between parents or allocated to one parent.
  • Parenting time - A parenting plan should contain a specific daily schedule for the time children will spend with each parent. It should also specify how holidays will be divided between parents, along with provisions for how parents will divide vacation time during the summer, winter, and spring breaks from school.
  • Transportation - Parents should determine who will be responsible for transporting children between their homes, to school, or to other activities and include these agreements in the parenting plan.
  • Communication - A parenting plan may include provisions defining when a parent may contact their children during the other parent’s parenting time.
  • Right of first refusal - Parents may wish to agree that if one parent will not be available to care for children during their scheduled parenting time, they must contact the other parent and give them the option of caring for the children before making other arrangements for child care.
  • Contact information - The parenting plan must include both parents’ home addresses and phone numbers, as well as the names, addresses, and phone numbers of their employers. The parenting plan should specify children’s residential address for purposes of school registration, and it should require parents to notify each other about emergencies, health issues, and travel plans.
  • Relocation - A parenting plan should include a requirement that a parent will notify the other parent at least 60 days before moving to a new home.
  • Future modifications - A parenting plan should specify that parents will use mediation to resolve proposed changes to the allocation of parenting time or parental responsibility. The plan may also include provisions for how modifications will be made if certain events occur.
  • Other provisions - A parenting plan can include any other decisions made between parents to protect children’s best interests or encourage parents’ cooperation in raising their children. For instance, it may state that parents are prohibited from drinking alcohol or using drugs during their parenting time.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Illinois law requires parents to submit a parenting plan (either together or separately) within 120 days of filing a petition for the allocation of parental responsibilities. If you need help reaching an agreement on any parenting issues during your divorce, the attorneys of Anderson & Associates, P.C. can work with you and your spouse to resolve outstanding issues and create a parenting plan that protects your rights and meets your children’s needs. Contact a Wheaton divorce lawyer today by calling 630-653-9400 to arrange a free consultation.

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