Parenting plans are documents that outline the role each parent will have in their child’s life after divorce, and the responsibilities they carry. When parents cannot come to an agreement, a judge will issue a parenting plan. In either case, an agreement is legally binding once it is issued or approved by a judge. It is common to have questions about parenting plans, as they are not something many people have dealt with prior to divorce. Below are the answers to some of the most common questions people have about these plans.
What Should You Include in a Parenting Plan?
Even when you can agree with your spouse about a parenting plan, there are still certain factors you should include within it. Many people think parenting plans only outline child custody situations, but there is much more to them than that. A parenting plan should always include:
- The amount of time the child will spend at each parent’s home
- The manner in which you will communicate with a matter relating to your child
- How holidays, vacations, and special occasions will be spent
- Cultural and religious practices important to the parent and/or child
- The child’s medical needs, and the responsibilities each parent holds for meeting them
- Where the child will attend schooling
- The type of lifestyle the child will enjoy
- Discipline expectations
- Any special needs of the child
- The process of modifying the parenting plan, if necessary
When addressing each of these factors, parenting plans must always work in the child’s best interests.
What Is the Best Interest of the Child?
The ‘best interest of the child’ is a standard that is talked about a lot in divorce cases that involve children. Essentially, this phrase simply means that every detail of the parenting plan will take into consideration the child’s:
- Mental well-being
- Relationship with each parent and any siblings
- Special needs
If one aspect of a parenting plan is not in the best interest of the child, a judge will likely not approve it. For example, if a parenting plan required a child to separate from a sibling they were very close to, a judge may issue a different judgment because it would cause the child too much stress.
When Are Parenting Plans Most Effective?
It can be argued that all parenting plans are effective because they are legally binding documents. However, these plans are most effective when the two parents can come to a mutual agreement on their own. By retaining control of the plan, each parent is more likely to abide by it, preventing custody disputes in the future.
Do You Need an Illinois Family Lawyer for Help with Your Parenting Plan?
Many couples can agree on a parenting plan, but it still takes a significant amount of compromise before one is reached. If you are going through a divorce and need help with your parenting plan, it is recommended that you speak with a dedicated Hinsdale family lawyer. At the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, we will negotiate with the other side to ensure the agreement is fair and in the best interests of you and your child. Call us today at 630-920-8855 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.