Child Custody and Joint Parenting Agreements
Unmarried or divorced parents generally share at least one common interest: the well-being of their children. Following a break up or divorce, however, the law requires arrangements regarding the children to be established and custody may be granted to one parent solely or to both parents under a joint custody order.
When parents are granted joint custody of child, each parent retains equal decision-making power related to the child. This means that parents will be expected to work together to provide for their child and to make decisions related to health care, education, religion, rules and discipline, and other practical considerations. When petitioning for joint custody, parents must demonstrate their commitment to such an arrangement by developing and presenting to the court a Joint Parenting Agreement, or JPA.
Joint Parenting Agreement
Under Illinois law, parents who wish to share custody of their child are asked to create a Joint Parenting Agreement that outlines each of their powers, rights, and responsibilities regarding the child. This allows parents the opportunity to negotiate a plan that best fits their family and situational circumstances while directly addressing the child’s best interests.
Most JPAs will generally include considerations regarding:
- Which decisions each parent will make and which may be made jointly;
- Schedules for each parent’s time with the child;
- Education, religion, and medical care information;
- Rules and discipline to be commonly enforced;
- Reasonable expectations for communication;
- Methods for resolving parental disagreements; and
- Any other negotiated concerns
Joint Parenting Order or Sole Custody
In the event parents are unable or unwilling to produce a JPA, and the court finds joint custody to be in the best interest of the child, a Joint Parenting Order may be entered. A Joint Parenting Order contains the same basic provisions as a Joint Parenting Agreement, but is established by the court rather than negotiated by the parents. Alternatively, based on the lack of a JPA, the court may determine that joint custody is not in the child’s best interest and may award sole custody to one parent instead.
Child Custody Lawyers in Illinois
If you are pursuing joint custody of your child, help is available in drafting your Joint Parenting Agreement. Contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney today for a consultation. Our team is prepared to work with you to ensure your child’s best interests are protected through every step of the child custody process.