Even if they do not get along themselves, there is no question that divorcing parents want what is best for their children. Disputes enter the picture when they cannot agree on the details. For the most part, disagreements center on the key components of a parenting plan – i.e., custody and visitation, which are referred to as allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time under Illinois law. As part of the legal divorce process, Illinois’ divorce statute requires parties to submit parenting plans according to a 120-day deadline.
Parents may work out a joint agreement for approval or file separate paperwork, which the judge will review and determine by conducting a hearing. The focus is the child’s best interests, and the end result is an official order of the court that is legally binding on both parents.
As such, you can guess that issues with parenting plans may arise at any time during divorce proceedings and even after the case concludes. You are best prepared for these contingencies when you have a Chicago custody lawyer to assist with the proceedings, but some basic information can help you avoid parenting plan problems.
Avoid Problems in Developing a Parenting Plan
You are less likely to encounter disputes when you start off with an effective, workable foundation for your parenting plan. Statutory requirements that you must include, as well as practical terms that should be a part of any arrangement, are:
- Allocation of decision making on the important issues involved with raising the child
- The child’s living arrangements
- A parenting time schedule or formula for the non-residential parent
- How parents address emergencies, health care, travel, and transportation
- Provisions regarding relocation and modifications to the parenting plan
- Many more
In addition to the statutory requirements, you can preemptively avoid problems by including provisions on communications, how to resolve disputes, and the right of first refusal regarding childcare.
Alleviate Disputes After Entry of a Parenting Plan Order
Because it is a legally binding order, you must use a sensible approach if problems arise after the parenting plan is approved by the judge. In some cases, parents may be able to resolve disputes through their respective attorneys. Plus, another parenting plan requirement is a provision on mediation to handle disagreements over custody and visitation. A mediator is trained in techniques for facilitating productive conversation and getting parties closer together on compromise, so you might reach an agreement without going to court.
Resolving Parenting Plan Problems in Court
If other attempts at resolution fail, the next step is heading to court – either by filing your own petition or responding to a petition by the child’s co-parent. As with all other aspects of the parenting plan, a hearing to settle disputes will focus on the child’s best interests standard. Both parents will be allowed to present evidence and testimony in support of their positions.
Trust a Chicago Custody Lawyer for Assistance with Parenting Plans
For more information on handling disputes with child custody and visitation, please contact Michael C. Craven. You can call our Chicago, IL office at (312) 621-5234 or go online to schedule a consultation with a skilled custody attorney.