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Creating a Solid Illinois Parenting PlanDivorces can be tough on everyone in the family. For children, a divorce can be especially stressful. Many parents worry about their children when they decide to get a divorce, but children are unique. They may not initially react well to the change, but children are adaptable and will get used to their new living situation quickly. One of the best things you can do to help your child transition easily is making sure there is a sound parenting plan in place before you finalize your divorce.

What is a Parenting Plan?

In Illinois, all couples who have children and are filing for divorce must create a parenting plan before the divorce can be finalized. A parenting plan is a written agreement that outlines most things pertaining to the children of the marriage, including allocated parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities.

Elements of a Parenting Plan 

Illinois courts urge couples to try to come up with a parenting plan between the two of them before any intervention happens. If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, they will be sent to mediation. If mediation still does not produce a parenting plan, then the judge will make decisions about the children that will go into the parenting plan. 

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DuPage County divorce child custody lawyerIf you are a parent who is considering ending your marriage through divorce, you probably have concerns about how you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will share responsibility for your children. Some couples are able to come to a custody decision together, while other divorcing couples require court intervention to arrive at a workable custody plan that protects parents’ rights and children’s best interests. If you are considering divorce, and you and your spouse share children, it is important for you to know the basics of child custody laws in Illinois.

Different Types of Custody

Illinois courts recognize two forms of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Together, the two concepts comprise what the law calls the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Physical custody refers to which parent the child is with at any given time, and it is called “parenting time” in Illinois law. Legal custody is referred to as “significant decision-making responsibilities,” and it involves the right of a parent to be involved in major decisions about their child’s upbringing. Decision-making authority can be given to just one parent, or both parents can share responsibility for different areas identified by the law: education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. While most experts agree that children do better with both parents in their lives, a shared custody arrangement may not be appropriate for families with a history of abuse or neglect.

Factors Considered During Court-Ordered Child Custody Arrangements

If divorcing parents cannot come to an agreement regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities, then custody decisions will be made in court. A family court judge ultimately makes custody decisions for parents who cannot agree to a plan based on what he or she thinks is in the best interests of the child. When making these decisions, a family court judge will consider factors such as:

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