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Geneva child custody lawyersWhen a couple with children gets divorced in Illinois, they are required to create a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a formal document that lays out each parent’s responsibilities and rights regarding the child and provides a foundation for ongoing, cooperative parenting. If the parents cannot come up with a workable plan on their own, the court may do for them.

Under Illinois law, there are over a dozen considerations that must be included or addressed in a parenting plan, including things such as a parenting time schedule and the child’s permanent address for school enrollment purposes. Other elements can also be included at the discretion of the parents or the court, including the right of first refusal. If the right of first refusal has been included in your parenting plan, you need to know what it means.

Bonus Parenting Time

For the purposes of a parenting plan, the right of first refusal applies when a parent needs childcare during his or her allotted parenting time. Depending on how the right is structured in your plan, the right of first refusal could apply when one parent has meeting some evening or it could be saved for longer periods, such as an all-day event on a weekend when the parent was supposed to have parenting time. If the right of first refusal is invoked, the parent who needs child care must let the other parent know and give the other parent the chance to have extra parenting time.

Kane County family law attorneyIn just a few short weeks, your children will be out of school for the summer. They are probably already looking forward to the freedom to sleep in and to spend time recreating with their friends. As a parent, you may also be excited for summer, but it is also common for parents to approach the extended break from school with at least some concerns. Such worries are often amplified for parents who share parental responsibilities with an ex-spouse. If you are subject to an Illinois parenting plan or custody agreement, it is important to prepare well in advance for the months ahead.

Review Your Existing Arrangements

Before planning any trips or summertime events, it is important to know what your parenting plan says about the summer break. Many parenting plans give the bulk of summer parenting time to the parent who sees the children less often during the school year—particularly if that parent lives relatively far away. Other plans keep a schedule similar to that which is in place during the school year. If your plan makes definitive arrangements regarding summer parenting time, you need to follow them or come up with a compromise so that both you and the other parent can enjoy the summer as well.

Geneva family law attorneyIf you are a parent considering divorce, your number one concern is probably about how the divorce will affect your children. Fortunately, there are many good resources for parents planning to divorce. One thing parents should do if they are planning to share custody of their children after the split is create a parenting plan or parenting agreement.

Every Plan is Different

If you are a parent getting divorced in Illinois, the courts will require you to draft and submit a parenting plan. In it, you should define the proposed custody and visitation schedule (technically called allocation of parental rights and parenting time respectively) as well as solidify other parenting decisions. Only the custody and visitation schedule is required, but many experts suggest parents use a court-required parenting agreement as an opportunity to get on the same page regarding the children. Each family is different, so your parenting plan will not look exactly the same as another family’s plan.

Kane County family law attorneyWhile it may seem that your children just went back to school a few short weeks ago, the reality is that the current school year will soon be drawing to a close. Of course, children spend much of the academic year looking forward to summer vacation, but many parents face difficulties during the summer months in regard to finding appropriate child care and keeping the kids out of trouble. For divorced, separated, or unmarried parents, the issues can be even more challenging, as summer vacation is often treated as a special circumstance in a court-approved parenting plan.

Common Arrangements

It is not unusual for a child whose parents are divorced to spend a significant portion of the summer break with the parent he or she tends to see less during the school year. Such an arrangement is actually fairly common in many parenting plans. For example, if your child resides primarily with you during the school year and spends alternating weekends with his or her other parent, the other parent may be given several straight weeks of parenting time during the summer. This type of situation, however, is not feasible for every family. Work schedules, summer camps, and other complications may require you and your child’s other parent to develop a more creative solution.

Kane County family law attorneysIt can be very difficult to work out the details of a reasonable parenting plan during the process of a divorce. Often, there is animosity between the parents, and children tend to place the blame for their parents’ divorce on themselves. In this regard, the importance of providing a healthy co-parenting experience for children cannot be understated. Research has shown that children of divorced parents are often at risk to become disengaged from their parents, school routines and extracurricular activities. Establishing a workable co-parenting relationship and plan can help alleviate some of these risk factors.

Respectful Communication is Critical

The first thing to remember when parents work on developing a co-parenting plan with one another is that the child’s needs should take top priority. It is also important to keep the child away from conflict as much as possible. Both parents should be respectful of each other, especially when their child is present. Children should not be caught in the middle of the situation, relaying messages from one parent to the other. Parents need to maintain open channels of communication for themselves.

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