For a parent going through a divorce, creating a fair parenting plan can be the top priority. In most cases, it is in a child’s best interest to maintain a consistent relationship with both parents after the parents’ divorce. Courts ensure that children maintain these relationships by establishing parenting plans, which were once known as custody orders.
In 2016, Illinois’ new custody law introduced parents to new terminology regarding parenting plans. What was once “legal custody” became “parental responsibilities,” which refers to all responsibilities a parent has toward his or her child. These include the responsibility to make decisions on the child’s behalf regarding education, religious upbringing, and medical care. These responsibilities can be held solely or shared between the parents.
What was once known as “visitation” is now known as “parenting time.” Now, both parents have parenting time with their children, rather than one parent being known as the custodial parent and the other having visitation.
The court allocates parental responsibilities and parenting time based on what it deems to be in a child’s best interest, which it determines by examining a set of factors about the child and the divorcing couple. These factors include the following:
When a parenting plan is no longer ideal for a child, the parents may modify it. When parents agree to a change to their parenting plan, they can simply submit their changes to the court. When one parent disagrees with the other’s proposed changes to the parenting plan, the parent seeking the change must demonstrate how the change is in the child’s best interest. Generally, parenting plans can only be modified once they have been in place for at least two years, but there are exceptions to this rule. These exceptions include instances where a parent believes the child to be in danger and instances where a parent wants to move beyond the 25 or 50 miles he or she is permitted to move without court approval. Whether the parent can move 25 or 50 miles without court approval depends on his or her home county.
If you have children, developing a parenting plan will be part of the divorce process for you. To adequately prepare for this and other aspects of your divorce, work with an experienced divorce lawyer who can act as your advocate and legal guide. Contact our team at The Law Offices of George M. Sanders, P.C. today to set up your initial consultation with a member of our firm.