In this article, we will examine the important details of Illinois parenting plans to determine the allocation of parenting time and responsibility in divorce and paternity cases, including how to file a parenting plan, what’s typically included in a plan, what happens if parents can’t agree, and what happens once the plan becomes an order.
A parenting plan is a document indicating parental responsibilities, such as decision making for a child and the amount of time that each parent will have with the child. Most people are familiar with the term “custody” when children are part of a divorce, however, the term is no longer used in the state of Illinois.
Each parent is responsible for filing a parenting plan within 120 days of asking the court for parental responsibilities. In the instance where both parents fully agree on responsibilities, including parenting time, the parents may file one plan within the 120 days. When filing one plan, both parents must sign the plan indicating they agree on all the terms of the document.
If parents do not agree, they must file separate plans. The court will look at each detail of both plans to determine what’s in the best interest of the child or children. If neither parent files a parenting plan, the court will hold a hearing to determine parental responsibilities based on the child’s best interest.
In reality, a parenting plan may include anything the parent’s wish to include regarding the child and responsibility for any aspect concerning the child. A standard plan must include: where the child lives, the amount of time the child will spend with each parent, how each parent receives information and records about the child (healthcare, education, etc.), how the child will be transported between parents for parenting time, each parent’s rights when making major decisions for the child, and restrictions on how far a parent can move with the children.
It’s a good idea for a parenting plan to a have a system in place for how disputes should be handled if the situation arises, and a way in which parents can periodically review and make necessary changes to the plan. The plan may also include other provisions or information intended to help both parents understand and abide by the shared responsibilities in raising the child or children.
If parents cannot reach an agreement on their own, the court may order a mediation. The parents would work with a neutral third party in the attempt to resolve any conflict and reach an agreement. If the parents still cannot reach an agreement, the court will establish one for them. This could include the judge ordering an investigation to determine the child’s wellbeing and best interests before creating an agreement for the parents to follow.
Once both plans have been created and shared with the court to examine each parent’s responsibilities, the court can accept the plan and it becomes a Joint Parenting Order. After the Joint Parenting Order is in place, changes cannot be made to it for two years. If either parent does not follow the order, they are breaking the law and can be taken to court. The purpose of a court order for parental responsibilities is to protect both parents’ rights when it comes to the care and decision-making responsibilities of the child are concerned.