When Illinois parents file for divorce, they are asked to create a parenting plan. This plan outlines how the parents fulfill parenting obligations as a divorced couple. If the parents can agree on the plan’s provisions, they can create the plan together and submit it to the Court for approval. If they cannot reach an agreement, they can each submit their own separate plan to the Court for approval. If you are a parent thinking about divorce, make sure to avoid these common mistakes when creating your parenting plan.
Mistake #1: Undervaluing the Usefulness of the Parenting Plan
The parenting plan is not just another piece of paperwork to fill out. The plan is an opportunity for divorcing parents to decide in advance how they will raise their children as divorced co-parents. The more you and your spouse figure out now, the less you have to discuss in the future. Furthermore, if a parent fails to comply with the plan’s provisions, the other parent will have the ability to enforce the parenting plan through the Court. Do not underestimate the importance of this document and its usefulness in your co-parenting future.
Mistake #2: Forgetting to Account for Holidays and Special Occasions
A crucial aspect of your parenting plan is the parenting time schedule. Some parents assume that a vague weekly or monthly parenting schedule will suffice. However, failing to account for deviations and special occasions can lead to arguments and misunderstandings. Make sure your plan includes directions for how parents will divide parenting time during holidays, birthdays, school and extracurricular events, summer camp, and any other special occasions.
Mistake #3: Assuming an Informal Agreement Will Suffice
Some parents rush through the parenting plan and assume that they will simply address problems as they arise. Unfortunately, parents sometimes make agreements that they do not follow through with. The parenting plan is eventually formalized into a legally binding Court order. If your ex-spouse fails to follow through with handshake agreements, you have no legal basis for holding them accountable. However, if your ex-spouse fails to comply with the official provisions in the parenting plan, you have the ability to do something about it.
Mistake #4: Choosing an Impractical Parenting Time Schedule
When creating your parenting time schedule, make sure the plan is realistic. You will need to account for each parent’s work schedules, how the children will be transported from one home to the other, and the children’s school schedule.
Mistake #5: Doing it All on Your Own
Some divorcing parents assume that only contested divorce cases require assistance from divorce lawyers. However, many divorce lawyers take a non-adversarial approach to child-related concerns. An experienced family law attorney can help you explore various parenting plan options and reach a parenting plan that works well for both parents and the children.
Contact a Palatine Family Law Attorney
If you are ready to divorce and you have children, contact a Barrington divorce lawyer Nicholas W. Richardson for help. Call The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. at 847.873.6741 for a free, confidential case assessment.