Illinois Joint Parenting Agreements Explained
Illinois divorce attorneys have several tools in their arsenal to ensure the best outcome in a divorce that involves children. In Illinois, the guiding principle for such divorces is that any post-divorce custody arrangement must be in the best interest of the children. Determining the best interest is not as easy as it sounds, however.
Fortunately, with the help of their family law attorneys, the parties are often able to reach agreement that truly is in the best interest of the children. They will memorialize that agreement in writing in a document called a Joint Parenting Agreement (JPA). A judge will then review the JPA. Because the judge will scrutinize the JPA, an experienced family law attorney usually prepares it based on commonly accepted industry standards. The typical JPA will identify the parties who are seeking divorce and provide the children’s names, address and age.
The JPA will then specify the custody arrangements. For example, it will state whether the parties have joint legal and physical custody, or whether one parent has full legal custody and the other parent only has visitation rights.
Once the JPA covers the custody issues, it will then detail visitation rights. A good Illinois family law attorney will attach a calendar that details which parent has the children for each day of the year, especially for major holidays.
Moreover, the JPA will set forth support and life insurance obligations for each party. Again, the goal here is to provide an adequate custody structure that will be in the best interest of the children.
Once the JPA is complete, the parties will sign it and the attorneys will present it to the judge. A judge will scrutinize the JPA and will not approve it if he or she determines that it is not in the best interest of the children. For example, if the child support obligations deviate from the Illinois guidelines, the judge will ask for a good explanation.
JPA’s are important documents. If you are facing a divorce, contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney who can answer your questions.