In 2016, Illinois updated the language describing child custody. Today, the state recognizes “parenting time” and "parental responsibilities," which refer to physical custody and decision-making authority respectively. Divorcing parents will need to determine how they will make decisions about their child's education, involvement in church or other religious activities, medical care, and more. They must also determine how they will share responsibility for supervising the child and meeting his or her day-to-day needs. A parenting plan provides an agreement between two parents regarding who has what rights or responsibilities related to the children. Developing a mutually-agreeable parenting plan is rarely a simple task, so it is important to start thinking about these issues early in the divorce process.
Parenting Time, Parental Responsibilities, and Other Crucial Matters in Your Parenting Plan
Whenever possible, parents are encouraged to create their own parenting plans as opposed to letting the court determine the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time for them. Sometimes, this requires help from their respective attorneys or a divorce mediator.
As you work on your parenting plan, make sure you discuss the following topics:
- The parenting time schedule - The parenting time schedule describes when the child will live with each parent. It may include who will have the child on holidays and vacations, as well as how transportation arrangements will be handled.
- Parental responsibilities - The parenting plan should also address which parent has decision-making authority over certain matters pertaining to the child's upbringing, such as education or religion. The parents may also decide that they will make all major child-related decisions jointly.
- Resolving disputes - All parenting plans should include a dispute resolution procedure, such as mediation. Disagreements are bound to arise, and parents will have an easier time resolving disagreements if they have planned for this possibility in advance.
- The right of first refusal - This clause states that one parent must notify the other if he or she is unable to care for a child during his or her designated parenting time. It specifies that the other parent must be given the opportunity to care for the child first before a third party such as a babysitter or grandparent is asked to watch the child.
- Future modifications to the parenting plan - As the child grows up and the parents' lives change, there may come a time that the parenting plan needs to be modified. The plan should include a clause specifying how future changes will be handled.
- How and when the child will communicate with both parents - A parenting plan should include a clause specifying how and when the child will communicate with a parent during the other parent's parenting time. This is an issue that can sometimes cause conflict, so it is best to address it early in the process and make a mutually-agreeable plan. For example, you may specify that the parent who has parenting time will have the child call the other parent before bed, or use text messaging to stay in touch with the other parent throughout the day.
Contact a St. Charles Parenting Plan Lawyer
The Kane County divorce attorneys at Shaw Sanders, P.C. can help you develop a parenting plan, address any child custody disputes, establish a child support order, and much more. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and set up a free initial consultation to learn more.