When children are involved in a divorce, the marriage may be ended but there will be a lifelong connection with your spouse through your children. No matter how combative your relationship with your spouse has been, it is crucial to put your personal emotions aside, put your children first, and strive to work out an agreement with your spouse. When parents can work together to build a new relationship around their responsibilities to their children, they will be able to develop an effective parenting plan.
The alternative is to let a stranger, either a judge or a court evaluator, decide what is best for your family. The court will decide who will make the major decisions about your child’s education, religion, medical care, whom the child will live with, how often the other parent be able to visit with the child and at what times. In typical cases, both parents are granted legal custody, allowing both to make major decisions, but one parent will be given physical custody and the other visitation rights.
Illinois statutes require that reasonable visitation be granted unless it is found by the court that it would endanger the child’s physical, moral, mental, or emotional health. Although the law does not state a specific schedule, Chicago courts do have a typical, or standard, schedule that is generally granted. It consists of 5 pm Friday through 5 pm Sunday on alternating weekends, a midweek dinnertime visit during the off week for a few hours, alternate holidays, and a portion of school vacations.
Although this arrangement may work well for some families, when parents can work together to craft a parenting plan tailored to their needs and lifestyle, the entire family will benefit from it. A parenting plan is a written document detailing how the parents will share time, decision making, responsibilities, and financial issues regarding their children.
When these matters can be agreed upon before approaching the divorce process, it can streamline the entire procedure, minimizing the emotional and financial toll of the process. A family mediator may be helpful in drafting a parenting plan if you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement.
You can discuss the possibility of a parenting plan with an experienced family law attorney at David. M. Siegel and Associates. Call (847) 520-8100 for a consultation today.