Illinois Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements
This article covers custody agreements in Illinois and gives guidelines on creating an effective parenting plan for Illinois courts.
You can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plan documents and parenting schedules.
If you understand the law and what the courts expect, you will be more prepared to make a parenting plan that meets the requirement and expectations of the court.
When creating a parenting plan in Illinois, it is important to have an understanding of the laws of the state. A successful parenting plan needs to be written in a manner that incorporates the laws while serving the needs of the child.
The laws pertaining to child custody and visitation can be found in the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 750. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/) contains the laws regarding child custody, including who is entitled to petition for custody, the factors the court considers to determine custody, and the courts request to submit a Joint Parenting Agreement.
As provided by law in Section 602.1 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (750 ILCS 5/602.1), the court shall consider awarding joint custody to the parents upon request of either or both parents, or on its own motion.
Once a petition (or motion) for joint custody is filed, the court will ask the parents to submit a parenting plan, called a Joint Parenting Agreement.
The Joint Parenting Agreement should include the following:
- A statement defining each parent's authority, rights, and responsibilities regarding the personal care and parenting of the child.
- A statement designating either or both of the parents as being responsible for making decisions in relation to the child's educational, medical, religious, and other important needs.
- If both parents are responsible for making the decisions, one parent should be designated as the final decision maker in the event the parents fail to agree.
- A statement regarding information and record-sharing, such as providing the other parent with copies of report cards and ample notice as to parent/teacher conferences, etc.
- A procedure in which modifications can be made to the agreement.
- A method of dispute resolution for resolving disagreements regarding the plan.
- Provisions for a period review of the terms of agreement. This enables the parents to make adjustments to the agreement as the needs of the child may change as the child grows and matures. Illinois parents typically agree to review the agreement every two years.
You may be interested to know about the following information about parenting agreements:
- The parents may include any statements or provisions in the Joint Parenting Agreement that are relevant to the child's needs.
- This parenting plan will serve as the foundation for co-parenting the child until adulthood, so it is important to contemplate all aspects of the child's life and address any issues that may arise.
- A custody schedule (created by the parents or the court) shall be attached to the parenting plan.
- The parents sharing joint custody are expected to do so in a manner that is cooperative and work together to meet the best interests of the child.
- Parents are expected to be reasonable and flexible with the schedule, and include both parents in the child's life as much as possible, using the attached schedule as a recourse if there are any conflicts or disagreements.
- In the State of Illinois, the parents do not lose any parenting rights to a child by living apart.
- Illinois courts do not presume to rule in favor for or against joint custody.
Once a petition for child custody is filed, the court will weigh the evidence and make a decision based on what is in the child's best interests.
Section 602 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (750 ILCS 5/602) defines some of the factors the court considers when determining the child's best interests:
- The wishes of the child as to any preference as to his or her custodian.
- The wishes of the parents as to their custodial preferences.
- The child's relationships and interactions with each of the parents, any siblings, and any other important people in the child's life.
- The nature of the child's acclimation to his or her home, school, and community.
- The mental health of everyone involved in the case.
- Any incidences or threats of physical violence committed by a parent.
- Any instances of ongoing or repeated domestic violence committed by a parent against the child or another person.
- The capability and willingness of each parent to encourage and foster a close and ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent.
- Whether or not either parent is a registered sex offender. If any member of a parent's household is a register sex offender, (such as a relative or live-in partner), this would also be considered.
- The terms of a military family care plan, should one parent be a member of the military.
These factors can help you make decisions that are good for your child.
For example, as you make a schedule that shows the time-sharing of the parents, you will want to think about your child's siblings and how much time your child gets to spend with them. This can influence the time and amount of visitation that you schedule.
Putting your child's needs first will let you come up with an effective custody agreement that benefits your situation.
If you should fail to submit a Joint Parenting Agreement, the court may require both of you to attend mediation to resolve any disputes.
In the event the mediation is unsuccessful, the court will create a Joint Parenting Order. The court may, at its discretion, award sole custody to one parent while giving the other parent visitation.
It is always better for the parents to set differences aside and work together when it comes to making a parenting plan or anything else related to the child.
The top twenty cities in Illinois (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville, Springfield, Peoria, Elgin, Waukegan (Lake County), Cicero, Champaign, Evanston, Decatur, Arlington Heights, Bloomington, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Palatine, Skokie, Tinley Park.