What's a Parenting Plan?
In Illinois, a parenting plan is a written agreement that allocates significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. The parties are required to submit a parenting plan to the court within 120 days of the date of filing a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities, or a petition for dissolution of marriage. At a minimum, a Parenting Plan must include fifteen (15) issues. Two substantial issues are significant decision making and parenting time.
Significant decision-making can be joint or under the control of one parent. Significant decision-making is broken down into four categories; education, health, religion, and extracurricular activities.
Decision-making related to education includes deciding which school your child will attend and tutors they will utilize. Decision making related to health includes all decisions relating to the medical, dental, and physiological needs of your child and the treatments related to those needs. Decision making related to religion addresses who is responsible for the religious upbringing of your child. Decision making related to extracurricular activities is a catch all that includes any events outside of those specifically listed above. Ultimately the court will determine what is in the best interest of the child when deciding which parent should be responsible for the each of the four significant decision-making categories.
How will the judge decide what is in the best interest of my child?
In determining what is in the best interest of the child the court will look to a number of factors, including:
The wishes of the child, taking into account the child's maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences to decision-making;
The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
The ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making;
The level of each parent's participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child;
Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parent's relating to decision-making with respect to the child;
The wishes of the parents;
The child's needs;
The distance between the parent's residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent's and the child's daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
Whether a restriction on decision making is appropriate;
The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
The physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child's parent directed against the child;
The occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child's household;
Whether one of the parents is a sex offender, and if so, the exact nature of the offense and what, if any, treatment in which the parent has successfully participated; and
Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant.
A parenting plan must also address the child's living arrangements. It should spell out a schedule that designates in which parents home the child will reside on specified days; or a detailed formula or method for determining such a schedule.
In a contentious divorce, coming to an agreement on a parenting plan can be difficult. Let the Wheaton family attorneys at Lafata Law negotiate with your ex-partner to develop a parenting plan that keeps your child's best interest at the forefront. Call today for your free consultation.