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DuPage County parenting plan lawyerIf you are a parent who is getting divorced in Illinois, you will need to create a parenting plan or parenting agreement. According to Illinois law, parents must file a parenting plan within 120 days of filing for divorce. If they cannot agree on a parenting plan, they may each file their proposed plan separately from the other spouse. Parents who disagree may be able to negotiate a settlement through mediation or with help from their attorneys. If parents cannot reach an agreement, the court may need to intervene.

Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

You and your spouse will need to make determinations about child custody, which is now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities, and parenting time. Parental responsibilities refers to decision-making authority about children’s medical care, education, extracurricular activities, and religion. Parenting time refers to the days and times that a parent directly cares for the child. 

Creating a parenting time schedule is not as simple as it may initially seem. For example, you and your spouse may decide that one parent will have your child Monday through Thursday, and the other parent will have the child Friday through Monday. However, you will also need to account for issues such as holidays, family vacations, and who should watch the child when a parent cannot fulfill his or her parenting time obligations.  

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Wheaton divorce attorney for sole child custodyIn 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) underwent major revisions. One of the biggest changes was an update to the language used to describe child custody. Instead of “child custody” and “visitation,” the terms “parental responsibility” and “parenting time” are used to describe parenting duties. Parental responsibilities refers to a parent’s authority to make major decisions about a child’s education, medical care, and other issues involved in their upbringing, whereas parenting time is the actual time that a parent spends caring for the child. Many divorced and unmarried parents split parental responsibilities and parenting time in a shared parenting arrangement, but some situations may require one parent to take on all of the parental responsibilities and/or parenting time.

Illinois Courts Typically Encourage Shared Parenting

Illinois courts usually prefer parenting arrangements that allow both of a child’s parents to be involved in his or her life. However, there are some situations in which a parent may be awarded “sole custody” or sole decision-making authority for a child. Non-custodial parents have a right to reasonable amounts of parenting time, unless there is some reason that the parent cannot adequately provide for the child’s safety and well-being. If a parent is found to be “unfit,” it is possible that the court will award the other parent 100 percent of the parental responsibilities and/or parenting time. If you wish to have all of the decision-making authority and parenting time, you will need to provide evidence to the court which proves that it is in your child’s best interests not to spend time with his or her other parent.

A parent may be considered unfit to have decision-making authority and/or parenting time if he or she cannot adequately complete caretaking tasks and keep the child safe. More specifically, a parent may not be awarded parental responsibilities or parenting time if he or she:

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Naperville child custody attorney co-parentingWhen a couple decides that their marriage is no longer functioning, and they need to pursue a divorce, the impact of their separation will extend beyond the two individuals. In fact, the emotional trauma of a divorce is often felt most strongly by the children involved. When children hear that their parents are going to separate, they tend to have a number of thoughts go through their head, ranging from why the divorce is happening to who they will ultimately live with.

Understanding the impact that a divorce can have on a child, most divorcing parents will put the needs of their children at the top of their priority list. Many parents ultimately decide to share parental responsibilities. If you believe that co-parenting is the right option for your family, speak with a family law professional regarding what to expect in this next chapter of your life.

Preparing for Shared Parenting

When a couple makes a decision to put the well-being of their children first, they may be able to agree to equally share in parental rights and responsibilities and work together to make decisions about how their children will be raised. In order to successfully navigate shared parenting, there are a number of challenges you should be prepared for. Some of the most important steps you can take as you embark on this new chapter in parenting include:

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Wheaton divorce attorneysFor most parents navigating the divorce process, every decision is centered around the well-being of their children. A divorce can be an incredibly difficult emotional process for all members of the family, but watching parents separate can be especially challenging for children to process.

Some parents elect to fight for sole custody in their divorce. This decision can be based on a number of factors, primarily relating to one spouse’s doubts regarding the other spouse’s ability to navigate parenting responsibilities. Yet, if both parties still believe in the other spouse’s parenting ability, it may be best to begin discussing the possibility of a shared custody parenting plan.

How Shared Custody Can Impact Your Child 

According to statistics compiled by the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 13.4 sole-custody parents living in the United States. In some cases, sole-custody is the right decision to make for your child’s well-being, but there are numerous benefits to exploring the possibility of shared custody.

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DuPage County divorce lawyerWhen going through the divorce process, the vast majority of Americans are concerned about their financial well-being, post-divorce, and their eagerness to move forward from the relationship. For parents, however, the divorce process can be the most emotionally stressful time in their lives. When fighting for decision-making power in the lives of their children - whether full, partial, or somewhere in between - parents are sometimes faced with the thought that they may have very little say over their child's life, upbringing, or education. 

Parents who fear that their spouse may make poor decisions may also worry about the potential consequences that their children may face, should they become collateral damage in a negative situation. Fortunately, a quality legal team can assist you in winning custody (the power to have final say over decisions regarding your children) using knowledgeable and aggressive representation.

Why You Should Be the Primary Custodial Parent?

An experienced family law attorney will always ask you what your top priorities are throughout the divorce process. For parents with minor children, the highest priority is routinely child custody. In order to win a custody battle, it is important to focus on why you should be the one awarded final decision-making power, as well as why your former-spouse should not.

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