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DuPage County Attorneys

LOMBARD

900 E. Roosevelt Road, Lombard, IL 60148

Phone: 630-932-9100

BLOOMINGDALE

134 N. Bloomingdale Road, Bloomingdale, IL 60108

Phone: 630-529-4761

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105 W. Madison Street, Suite 2200, Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: 630-932-9100

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1730 Park Street, Suite 202, Naperville, IL 60563

Phone: 630-420-1000
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Lombard, IL family law attorneyIf you share children with your spouse and have made the choice to divorce, one of the most important legal decisions you and your partner will have to make is which guidelines to include in your parenting plan. Under Illinois law, a parenting plan is a written agreement that designates certain decision-making responsibilities to each parent, outlining specific parameters that provide structure as to how children should be raised. Parenting plans also govern parenting time (visitation), which is a crucial piece of your family’s new structure following the divorce.

Responsibilities to be Discussed When Creating a Parenting Plan

With so many points to cover in your new parental dynamic, the details can be overwhelming to sort out, especially if there is tension between you and the other parent. If you are unsure of where to begin or what will be expected of you as a divorcing parent, familiarizing yourself with the responsibilities that will be allocated can help you organize your thoughts and concerns. Here are some foundational caretaking functions that will be addressed in a parenting plan:

  • Daily routines - Your children’s daily routines must be maintained, including bedtime and wake-up time, general hygiene practices, and mealtimes. In addition, children must be supervised at all times.

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Naperville parenting plan attorney

As you begin to navigate the divorce process, the tasks you must face can seem daunting. It is natural to feel overwhelmed by what likely seems to be a never-ending to-do list, but the upside to this challenge is that the more organized you are, the more you improve your chances of experiencing a smoother, less stressful divorce from start to finish. If you and your spouse share children, topics such as the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) can be especially taxing as you organize the next chapter of your lives, as these topics tend to be highly emotional for both parties. However, a thorough parenting plan will help better facilitate your post-divorce parenting arrangements and ultimately support your child’s best interests.

The Minimum Requirements for Your Parenting Plan

A parenting plan in the state of Illinois is, in essence, an outline of each parent’s responsibilities included in your divorce decree. It acts as a rulebook with clear guidelines for both parents, so each party knows what is expected of them moving forward. To ensure your arrangements are as efficient as possible and serve to protect the well-being of your children after the separation, it is important that your plan covers all the basics. Your attorney will assist in negotiating the terms and can help direct and advise you in the revision of any details or areas that need to be addressed, but every parenting plan should at least touch on the following three issues:

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Lombard Divorce AttorneyWhen parents with minor children divorce in Illinois, the court asks them to submit a mutually agreed parenting plan that includes an allocation of parenting time and decision-making responsibility. The court will approve that plan as long as it appears to be in the best interests of the children. However, if the parents cannot agree, the court will have to determine the parenting plan. To ensure that the court has enough information to make decisions in the best interests of the children, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to conduct an investigation and report back to the court. A parent may also ask the court to appoint a GAL if they believe that the court needs to hear an independent perspective on certain matters, e.g., a child’s special needs or the fitness of a parent to care for a child.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do in an Illinois Divorce Case?

A guardian ad litem is an independent attorney who acts as an investigative arm for the court. The GAL does not represent the wishes of either parent nor the wishes of the children. Rather, their goal is to help the court make decisions that are in the best interests of the children. While the court will listen to each parent’s individual perspective, the GAL’s perspective will be given substantial weight as a trusted representative of the court.

The GAL’s investigation will generally include:

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Bloomingdale Parenting Plan AttorneyIf you have young children and are divorcing a spouse who abuses drugs or alcohol, Illinois law provides a process for restricting an individual’s parenting time and parental responsibilities. Illinois law 750 ILCS 5/603.10 calls for a court hearing at which attorneys from both sides may present evidence. 

In preparation for this hearing, you want to work with a skilled family lawyer to compile as much documentation as possible. Write down everything you remember about specific incidents that demonstrate your spouse’s issues. You may ask friends and family to write down their recollections of specific instances as well. If your spouse has ever been arrested for DUI, drug possession, or disorderly conduct, those police reports can be used to prove your case. Medical records showing stints in rehab or even bank records displaying frequent liquor store purchases could be helpful as well.

Illinois Court Orders to Protect Children 

If the court finds your spouse has “engaged in any conduct that seriously endangered the child’s mental, moral, or physical health or that significantly impaired the child’s emotional development,” the court may issue one or more orders that the judge deems necessary. In particular, the court will consider whether a parent has used “drugs, alcohol, or any other substance in a way that interferes with the parent’s ability to perform caretaking functions.”

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IL family lawyerIf you and your spouse have gone through the divorce process, but are still willing to raise your child together, you will be undertaking the responsibilities of co-parenting. Co-parenting has both parents share the parenting duties of the child even after the divorce and comes with its own challenges. The parents will need to create a parenting plan. After a divorce, some people feel a need to relocate and get a fresh start in life. If you feel the need to relocate and are co-parenting your child, it will create challenges. It is important to recognize them and prepare for them before you make the decision to move.

The Distance

Obviously, the first factor that needs to be taken into account is how far away you are planning on relocating, and the different situations that will arise if you are the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent is the person with whom the child spends the majority of their time. Due to the amazing technology available today, it is easier than ever to be present in someone’s life without being physically near them. However, being farther away is still going to mean that the non-custodial parent will have less overall time to spend with their child and it will be harder to negotiate how the child spends their time.

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