If you are a parent considering filing for divorce, understand that a parenting plan will be part of your divorce settlement. In most cases, a parenting plan gives both parents regular time with their child. This arrangement was once known as joint residential custody. Now, the term “custody” has been replaced by “parental responsibilities” and the concept of visitation has been replaced by parenting time. This adjustment was made to make the law fit better with today’s parenting culture and avoid feelings of winning and losing among divorcing parents.
The court develops a parenting plan for a child by considering a variety of facts about the child and his or her parents. The court can use its discretion to weigh certain factors more heavily than others as it deems necessary. The factors it considers include, but are not limited to:
As a child grows and matures, the parenting plan established when his or her parents divorced does not always continue to serve his or her needs. For example, a parenting plan created for a kindergartener might have kept them in the same school to reduce the upheaval to his or her established schedule, but by high school, the child might be better served by living primarily with the parent whose local school district provides more comprehensive college preparation resources. In a case like this, parents may modify their parenting plan to adjust it to their child’s current best interest.
Typically, a parenting plan cannot be modified unless it has been in place for at least two years. Exceptions to this rule include a parent’s proposed move that requires court approval or when a parent feels his or her child is in danger with the other parent. When parents agree to a modified parenting plan, changing it is as simple as submitting new documents to the court. When parents disagree, the parent seeking the change must prove to the court that the change is in the child’s best interest.
To learn more about how a parenting plan is created, enforced, and modified in Illinois, set up your initial legal consultation with one of the experienced child custody attorneys at The Law Offices of George M. Sanders, P.C. today. We are here to help you through the divorce process and the legal issues that can crop up in the months and years that follow. Do not wait to get started with a member of our team.