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Naperville divorce mediation attorneysParents who are getting divorced in Illinois are asked to create a “parenting plan” or parenting agreement which describes the way they plan to share parenting time and responsibilities. There are over a dozen issues which must be addressed in the plan, including when the child will live with each parent, how the child will be transported between homes, how future modifications to the plan will be handled, and more. Family law mediation may be particularly beneficial to divorcing couples with child-related disputes. If you and your spouse are planning to divorce, mediation may enable you to design a parenting plan that benefits you as well as your children.  

Mediation Allows Both Parents to Express Ideas and Concerns

There are only two ways that Illinois parenting plans are created: through an agreement between the parents or through the court. Child custody litigation can be stressful, expensive, and can lead parents to be even more resentful of each other. Furthermore, when the court makes a decision about parental responsibilities and parenting time on the parents’ behalf, the parents have much less direct input. Through mediation, you and your spouse will have the opportunity to express your wishes, ideas, and concerns. The mediator is unbiased and will make sure that each spouse has the opportunity to express his or her opinions.

An Experienced Mediator Will Keep Discussions Focused and Productive

Ineffective communication is often one of the largest sources of conflict in a marriage – or a divorce. If you are like many divorcing couples, you probably struggle to discuss divorce issues like child custody or property division without getting off topic or becoming upset. A family law mediator is specially trained in conflict resolution and negotiation. He or she will guide the conversation and help discussions remain focused, on-topic, and productive.

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DuPage County child custody lawyersIn Illinois, parents who divorce are asked to create a parenting plan. The plan identifies the parent who has the majority of parental responsibility (formerly called custody), describes how major decisions about the child will be made, provides a schedule for sharing parenting time, and more. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement about the terms of the parenting plan through negotiation or mediation, the court may need to decide on a parenting plan on behalf of the parents. However the parenting plan is put in place, it is an official court order that parents are expected to obey completely. If your child’s other parent is not following the directions contained in the parenting plan, he or she could face serious consequences.

When a Parent Intentionally Ignores a Parenting Plan

If your child’s other parent is occasionally late picking up or dropping of your child or makes other minor mistakes with regard to shared parenting, this is not grounds for court action. However, if the parent is purposefully refusing to follow the terms of your parenting plan, it may be time to do something about it. Notify the court of the other parent’s actions and contact an experienced family law attorney. In some cases, a parent who intentionally disobeys a parenting plan can be held in contempt of court and face certain civil consequences. If your child’s other parent is incapable of following the terms of the parenting plan, you may wish to petition the court for a modified parenting plan. Illinois courts will always make child custody and parenting time decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests.  

Parental Abduction and Kidnapping

In extreme cases, a parent’s actions may be considered parental abduction. If you have legal custody of your child and the other parent takes your child away from you and keeps him or her, the other parent may be committing parental abduction. He or she could lose parenting time privileges and face criminal consequences. Parental kidnapping occurs when a parent knowingly confines the child against his or her will through the use of force, threat of force, deceit, or enticement. This is a felony offense punishable by up to seven years in prison. If you believe your child’s other parent has committed parental abduction or kidnapping or otherwise represents a risk to your child, contact the court immediately. Then, reach out to a family law attorney experienced in handling volatile child custody disputes.

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DuPage County family law attorneysWhen it becomes evident that you are headed for divorce, it is important to start planning for the process. You will need to have a good understanding of your current financial situation and what constitutes your ideal post-divorce scenario. Depending upon the circumstances of your relationship with your spouse, you may be able to begin negotiating the terms of your divorce agreement. At first, of course, such discussions would need to be relatively informal, but you and your spouse can at least start talking about the future. The conversation is even more important if you have a child or children together, so that you can both better understand the role you are to play in your child’s upbringing.

Determine a Primary Residence

Among your first child-related concerns should be which parent will assume responsibility for a majority of the parenting time. This is an important consideration in determining where the child will attend school. The parent who does not have the majority of the parenting time will most likely be responsible for paying child support. Just because one of you has less parenting time than the other is not considered to be a reflection on your parental rights; rather it is more of a logistical determination.

Significant Decision-Making

You and your spouse will also need to discuss how you will make significant decisions regarding your child’s life. You may agree to cooperate and make each decision together, or you may determine that each of you should have separate but complementary responsibilities for decisions about your child’s education, medical care, or religious training. You and your spouse may have particular areas of strength or strong feelings about a specific area of your child’s life that make one of you better equipped to handle related decisions.

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