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Updated Statute Presumes Parental Cooperation

Posted on in Child Custody

parenting plan, cooperation, Lombard family law attorneyFor the last several months, posts on this blog have discussed at length a number of changes being effected in the state of Illinois, particularly as they relate to divorce and family law concerns. Most of the updates are intended to facilitate and encourage a more amicable divorce process, which is beneficial not only to the spouses themselves, but to any others who may be affected, most especially children. A divorce or separation in which contentiousness and acrimony can be minimized often allows for a much more stable future, free from most divorce-related grudges and hurt feelings. While encouraging reasonable negotiation between divorcing couples of all types, the new law expects active cooperation from parents, in particular, requiring them to be more a part of the decision-making process than ever before.

New Year, New Outlook

Prior to the new laws taking effect at the beginning of 2016, parents going through a divorce were often left to fight over who would provide what for their children. Too often, the battle over sole or joint custody could turn ugly, leaving the child caught directly in the middle. Going forward, however, the law explicitly requires the parties to a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities—the new name for child custody in Illinois—to submit to the court a proposed parenting plan within 120 days. Such a plan, which may be developed separately by each parent or negotiated jointly, must include a number of elements necessary to ensure the child’s best interests are being met.

Considerations in a Parenting Plan

The parenting plan, in many ways, is similar to the Joint Parenting Agreement previously required from parents seeking joint custody of their child. The plan must delineate each parent’s roles and authority regarding significant decision-making, as well as outline a parenting time schedule. To be accepted by the court, a parenting plan must also indicate which parent will be granted the majority of the parenting time, a distinction used to determine school enrollment and other considerations that require a custodian for the child. Additionally, the plan must include each parent’s right to medical and school records, a current address for each parent, details about exercising the right of first refusal, a mechanism for resolving issues that may arise and more.

Parents who present a parenting plan that does not obtain the courts approval may be referred to mediation to continue their negotiations. The court does have the authority to allocate parental responsibilities, but is not likely to do so until all cooperative avenues have been exhausted.

Parents’ Advocates in Illinois

If you are in the midst of divorce and are unsure of what your next step should be, or for assistance in developing a sound parenting plan, contact an experienced Arlington Heights family law attorney today. We understand the difficulties you may be facing and fully prepared to help you protect your rights.


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