In Illinois, the term child custody was replaced by parental responsibilities in 2016. Instead of one or both parents having “custody” of a child, the parents must create an agreement that allocates the parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parenting time is the term that replaced visitation in the 2016 law, as well. This agreement is called a parenting plan.
When getting a divorce, the parents of a child must decide how the child will be taken care of after the separation. A parenting plan will be drafted that explains which parent has what responsibilities, and who the child will see and when. A schedule will be created that both parents and the child will follow after the divorce. That schedule may include what days a child spends with either parent, who picks up the child from school, and what activities each parent is involved in.
The best way to create a parenting plan is with your attorney. Here are some things to think about when writing a parenting plan:
Create Consistency: It is important to begin working on a parenting plan right away in order to implement the changes sooner than later. A divorce will be hard on your children, so the more stability you and your spouse can create, the easier the transition will be. When writing the plan, keep as many things in your child’s life as consistent as possible. If your child has an extracurricular activity during the week, work weekly events into the parenting plan. If your spouse picks up your child every day from school, continue that routine if possible. When changes do need to be made to the child’s schedule, be sure to communicate these changes and make sure you and your ex can commit to them.
What the Child Wants: When making a parenting plan for your child, consider his or her wants and needs. This plan is designed to be in the best interest of a child, and if they are old enough, it is important to consider their input. Remember that this is a big change for them too. If the child is not old enough to have an opinion, think about what they would benefit them and create the least amount of disruption. Of course, you may have to make decisions that are unfavorable to your child, but listening will make them feel included in a time of uncertainty.
A parenting plan is a court order, so it is crucial to get details about your child’s future care right the first time to avoid additional time before a judge. Contact an experienced Will County family law attorney to protect your rights as a parent. Call our office at 815-726-9200 to schedule a free consultation.