In 2016, Illinois began using the terms ‘parenting time’ and ‘parental responsibility,’ rather than ‘custody’ and ‘visitation’. Family law courts in the state were also directed to encourage parents to come up with their own mutually agreed upon parenting plan agreements. In fact, when a couple has children, their divorce cannot be finalized until a parenting plan is in place. Unfortunately, many parents are unable or unwilling to negotiate regarding their own parenting plan, in which case, courts are required to step in and draft a parenting time schedule that it believes is in the child’s best interests. In these situations, being represented by an experienced Mt. Prospect parenting time lawyer who can ensure that a parent’s fitness is demonstrated to the court is critical to ensuring that any court-ordered parenting plan is fair and in a child’s best interests.
When it directed Illinois courts to begin using the terms parenting time and parental responsibility instead of custody and visitation, the state legislature also specifically defined these terms. For instance, parenting time is defined as the period of time for which a parent is in charge of:
What these schedules actually look like depends on the specific circumstances of a case and what is determined to be in a child’s best interests.
Parenting time schedules address when each of a child’s parents will have access to that child during the course of the year. This means that each parenting time schedule must address a variety of situations, including how parenting time will be divided on weekdays during the school year, on weekends, during spring, summer, and winter breaks, and on holidays. For many families, this takes the form of a schedule in which a child spends alternate holidays with his or her parents. Alternatively, families who live near each other, often choose to split each holiday, so a child could spend Christmas morning with one parent and the afternoon with the other.
As previously mentioned, many couples are able to create their own unique parenting plans, which reflect all of the parties’ needs. When this is not possible, however, the presiding court will create a plan on the family’s behalf. Because Illinois does not have a standard parenting time schedule, judges must evaluate a series of factors in each case before making a decision, including:
Again, an analysis of these factors is only required when a family’s parenting time schedule is declined by the court or if the parties are unable to come to an agreement.
To schedule a free consultation with an experienced and compassionate Mt. Prospect parenting time lawyer, please contact the SAM LAW OFFICE LLC at 847-255-9925 today.