Custody cases are now referred to as parental responsibilities cases in Illinois. As part of your parental responsibilities case, you may have to draft a parenting plan.
The purpose of a parenting plan is to lay out how you and your co-parent will share responsibility for your child. This includes how major decisions will be made and whom your child will spend time with, and when.
A good parenting plan should also address how exchanges or transportation will take place and schedules during special times of the year, such as summers or holidays. It should cover as many potential situations as possible, but not get so detailed it increases the risk of disagreements or becomes inflexible.
Is a parenting plan required?
You are not always required to draft and file a parenting plan, but it still a good idea to anyway. You are giving the judge a clear idea of what you are asking for and why.
Filing a parenting plan also helps show the judge that you are serious about your parental responsibilities case and interested in your child’s best interests.
Your parenting plan must be filed within 120 days of the filing of the parental responsibility petition. You and your co-parent will exchange your respective parenting plans.
What happens after I file my parenting plan?
After reviewing each other’s parenting plans, you may find that both of you agree on all or most items. You can choose to incorporate everything into one parenting plan and file it with the court, along with a parental responsibilities agreement.
There are probably going to be some issues that you do not agree on. In that case, a hearing will be held.
Although you and your co-parent will both have a chance to testify at your hearing, as well as present evidence and witnesses, the judge will also review your parenting plans when making a parental responsibilities determination.
A parenting plan is just one piece of a parental responsibilities case. It can be helpful to seek the advice or representation of a legal professional who can advocate on your behalf.