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Required Components of a Parenting Plan

 Posted on July 31, 2017 in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneyIf you and your spouse have children, it is safe to say that the allocation of parental responsibilities will be a main focus of your divorce proceedings. Many couples can work out parenting plans on their own, but this is not always possible, especially if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have vastly different opinions on parenting. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides a list of what should be included in a parenting plan, and it is a good idea to review them before you begin the process of a divorce.

The Court’s Role

A court will have a certain role in solidifying a parenting plan, even if the couple does the bulk of the work in creating it. For example, a rebuttable presumption exists under the law that both parents are fit and no restrictions on parenting time are necessary. This can be challenged by the court if a preponderance of evidence to the contrary can be shown. Illinois courts generally prefer couples to agree on as much of their divorce agreement as possible without judicial intervention, but Illinois courts also cite the child’s well-being as a top priority.

The court will also have the final say about whether or not a decision made by the parents is truly in the best interests of the child. There is a list of factors that must be considered before any divorce agreement can be entered into the record, and at times, parents may be too close to a situation to be able to assess it objectively. Examples of these factors include any prior agreement made by the parents regarding child care, both parents’ previous conduct toward the child, and each parent’s current and future earning potential.

Minimum Requirements for Parenting Plans

Since the law was modified last year, there are specific requirements that a parenting plan must contain before it will be deemed acceptable by the court. While most are common sense, there are some requirements that not every couple will think of. Examples include:

  • A provision stating who will make which decisions for the child, with any issues of potential contention specifically addressed;
  • A plan for the child’s living arrangements and distribution of parenting time, with address and primary custodial parent clearly delineated;
  • A provision allowing mediation (or another method of dispute resolution) in the case of disagreements or emergencies;
  • Each parent’s contact information, including phone number and e-mail address, as well as a procedure to follow in case any relevant information changes; and
  • A provision either granting or waiving the right of first refusal. This provision was added to parenting time laws in January 2016, and permits a parent to exercise their right to take care of their children if the other parent must be away.

These and the other criteria listed in the statute must be present, or the court will be forced to intervene and modify the plan until it meets the required standard.

We Can Help

If you are in the process of developing a parenting plan, you probably have questions. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney to get the answers you need. Call 630-352-2240 for a confidential consultation at any of our three convenient office locations.


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