The Importance of Your Illinois Parenting Plan

If you have children, one of the most important elements of your divorce or paternity judgment will be your parenting plan. The parenting plan is the document that details your custody arrangements for your child or children, including your parenting time allocation and your parental responsibilities or decision-making allocation.

The child custody laws in Illinois have recently been changed to reflect a national trend to move away from terms like "custody" and "visitation" to "parental responsibilities" and "parenting time."

With the arrival of summer, your time with your children may change, as you adapt to their time off from school. This can be a challenge if both parents work, but this is where the value of a well-developed parenting plan will be found. The life of any parent is always full of ups and downs and unexpected events, and for a divorced couple, these issues may be even more predominant.

A comprehensive parenting plan can help you set expectations and avoid the stress of many custody issues. The parenting plan can function like a blueprint, laying out all of the major and even not-so-major events in your child's life, and guide you and their other parent to see what is in their best interests.

Remember your child's best interests

A parenting plan must meet the "best interests of the child" standard. In building your parenting plan, you want to keep this standard in mind. When you have a question on how to deal with an issue, consider if you were the child and how you would want it resolved.

One of the greatest difficulties for parental alienators in a divorce is separating their perspective from that of their children. It is hard to recognize that while they can divorce their spouse, that spouse will always be the other parent for their children.

Your divorce attorney can help you develop a parenting plan that will serve your child's best interests and be one you can live with. Attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd., have worked with many parents and have created many parenting plans and they have the experience to help you obtain a plan that works for you and your child or children.

Cooperation is best

If the child's other parent is cooperative so you can assemble this plan, it is likely that it will be both a plan that is truly in the child's best interest and that will be quickly approved by the court. Judges in the Illinois family courts recognize that parents will generally know what is best for their children and be able to create a plan that allows for them to thrive.

Your attorney can explain the factors a judge would consider in analyzing a parenting plan for the best interests of the child. The Illinois legislature has created 17 factors, involving a broad array of issues that affect children.

Decision-making authority

The new law also has changed how parental decision-making authority will function. Previously, it may have been granted to one parent or to both. The new law allows a judge to more finely tailor decision-making authority to each couples' situation.

Decision-making authority covers the education, health, religion and extracurricular activities of your child. You can agree in writing to how this allocation will occur and if you and your child's other parent cannot agree, a judge will do it for you.

The most significant change is that a judge does not have to give all authority to each parent. The judge could assign the decision-making authority for education matters to the father and healthcare issues to the mother.

This is why the ability to work with your former spouse is important. It allows you to maintain control of many of the aspects of your parenting plan and your children. While it may seem overwhelming, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd., can provide the hope that you can create a viable plan that will serve the best interests of your children.