When going through a divorce, figuring out who gets custody of your children can be among the most emotionally charged and complicated steps of ending a marriage.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It should be noted that in Illinois the word “custody” has been replaced with “parenting time” and “decision making”.
Your parenting time and visitation schedules will depend on how parenting time is allocated. This is done by either an agreed-upon parenting plan or by a court order.
Today, in Illinois, parenting plans are referred to as allocation plans or allocation agreements.
At Diamond Divorce Law, located in McHenry, Illinois, we have decades of experience helping Illinois families through their family law issues. Deciding what is best for your children is one of the most critical aspects of this process.
Joint Parenting in Illinois
In Illinois, joint parenting and joint custody are now called shared parental responsibility which includes parenting time and decision making.
This usually indicates that the parents can cooperate effectively in matters directly affecting the children.
Shared parental responsibility means that the parents share in making significant decisions regarding the children, such as education, health care, and overall well-being.
However, just because you and your ex-spouse share responsibility does not mean that you will have equal parenting time.
Joint Parenting Agreements establish joint parenting responsibilities which may include the following:
- Where the kids are going to live;
- Each parent’s rights and responsibilities;
- The means of resolving disputes over parenting issues;
- A parenting time schedule;
- A plan for how each parent will make major decisions on behalf of the child;
- A method for changing the parenting agreement if need be.
Parenting Time in Your Parenting Agreement
Part of your Joint Parenting Agreement should include detailed arrangements about parenting time, or when each parent will be responsible for the children.
This should include:
- A residential schedule listing typical weekday and weekend time
- A holiday schedule that breaks down which parent gets the child for each holiday
- A summer schedule
- Vacation time with the child or children
One important thing to remember is that in Illinois, if you and your ex-spouse can come up with agreeable terms that are in the best interest of the child, the court usually won’t intervene. But if you can’t do it on your own, the court will do it for you – and it might not be to your liking.
So be as specific as possible in coming up with your agreement. For example, include details about transportation, designated drop-off and pick-up locations and times, etc.
Sole Parenting Responsibility
When one parent is not suitable for the decisions affecting the child, or the parents are unable to cooperate effectively to engage in shared parenting responsibility, parenting responsibility will be awarded to one parent by the court.
Sole parenting responsibility designates one of the parents as having the authority to decide the major issues in a child’s life. However, this does not mean that the other parent is not allowed visitation with the child.
What About the Right of First Refusal?
The Right of First Refusal provision states that when a parent cannot fulfill their parenting time obligation, they must contact the other parent to see if the other parent wishes to have the child stay with them.
Put another way, the right of first refusal gives parents the right to “refuse” extra parenting time before a third party is asked to watch the children. Many parenting agreements have a right of first refusal clause, and if they don’t, sometimes the court will insert one for you.
Contact Diamond Divorce Law
As you can see, child custody can be messy and convoluted, especially without the help of an experienced family law attorney. In Illinois, Diamond Divorce Law can help make this process as painless as possible.