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Naperville family law attorneysWhen parents get divorced and wish to share custody of their child in Illinois, they are expected by the court to create a parenting plan. This plan outlines how parental responsibilities will be shared as well as how decisions about the child’s upbringing will be made after the divorce is finalized. There are certain elements of a parenting plan that are required under Illinois laws, but many experts suggest including other aspects of childrearing in the plan as well.

If you are considering a divorce, it is a good idea to learn about what you must include in a parenting plan. A qualified family law attorney can help you make your parenting plan the foundation of a healthy co-parenting relationship.

Requirements for Illinois Parenting Plan

At a minimum, a parenting plan in Illinois must include:

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Naperville family law attorneyWhen parents get divorced or unmarried parents have a child together, there are often disagreements regarding issues of child custody and visitation. In Illinois, child custody is called the “allocation of parental responsibilities” and visitation is called “parenting time.” If you and your former spouse or partner have disputes about parenting time or parental responsibilities, you may require court intervention to help solve these problems. Illinois family court judges sometimes appoint a specially-trained attorney to help when parents have disputes regarding children. Typically, the attorney serves in one of three roles: child representative, attorney for the child, or guardian ad litem. Read on to learn more about the most common of these specially-trained attorneys, a guardian ad litem.

What Is the Purpose of a Guardian ad Litem?

Courts generally appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the interests of a child, infant, unborn child, or other person who cannot advocate for themselves. The job of a GAL in a child custody case is to protect the legal rights of the child or children involved in the dispute. He or she will investigate the lives of each parent and anyone else relevant to the case. This may include interviewing parents and other parties, as well as visiting the child’s home and school and reviewing relevant documents. The GAL will then use this information to make a recommendation to the court about what he or she thinks is the best course of action moving forward.

Does the Court Have to Follow the Guardian ad Litem’s Recommendation?

Not just anyone can be appointed to act as guardian ad litem in a child custody case. An attorney acting as a GAL must have special training and education. Because of this, the information presented by the GAL is considered expert witness testimony. Although the court is not required to follow the recommendation presented by the GAL, this recommendation carries significant weight. Each party will have an opportunity to cross-examine the GAL about his or her findings in court.

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Naperville child custody attorneysIf you are a parent who is considering ending your marriage, you probably have many concerns related to your children. You may worry about how you children will take the news of the divorce or how you and your spouse will share custody of the children after the split. If you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse plan to have joint custody of your children, you will need to learn how to share parental responsibilities in a way that prioritizes your children’s best interests. It can take hard work and humility, but the good news is that effective co-parenting after divorce is possible.

There Is Not Just One “Right” Way to Co-Parent

Just as every marriage is unique, every divorce is unique. Sometimes, a married couple breaks up and there are almost no feelings of bitterness or hostility between the former spouses. Other times, a divorce is wrought with conflict and spite. The way you co-parent will largely be determined by the relationship you have with your children’s other parent. If you and the other parent are able to easily communicate about child-related plans and concerns, you may be able to have a more casual co-parenting arrangement. However, if you and your children’s other parent struggle with productive communication, you may want to make firm parenting plans and decisions in advance.

Divorcing parents in Illinois are required to complete a parenting agreement or parenting plan which addresses how they plan to share parental responsibilities and parenting time. The creation of this agreement can be a valuable opportunity for parents to discuss in detail how they plan to share custody of their children and to put their co-parenting plans in writing.

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