What You Need in Your Parenting Plan
When determining allocation, one useful tool that many Illinois judges use is the parenting plan. This plan allows the judge to see what each parent feels is best for the child, and make an informed decision based off of that. Developing this plan is an incredibly important step for any parent who wants to make their needs and opinions known to the judge. Without a parenting plan, your say in the parental allocation may be completely overlooked.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
Essentially, a parenting plan is a document that dictates who will make what decisions for a child, as well as how those decisions will be made. When two parents have to split parenting responsibilities because they have joint allocation, then this document is necessary to keep the parents on the same page. Without it, it would be very easy for the parents to backtrack or disagree, leading to fights and meaning that no decision is made on behalf of the child.
There is nothing more important than the well-being of children, and parenting plans help ensure that their lives are kept on track. However, the parenting plan cannot just be any piece of paper. It is a specific document and must be filed properly. Generally, the plan is ordered by the court, but you should still file your own parenting plan so that the judge knows what you think would be best.
You should file your parenting plan within 120 days of asking the court for parental responsibility. If you and the other parent agree on a parenting plan already, then you can file one plan together, so long as it is willingly signed by both of you. If neither of you file a plan, then the court will have a hearing in order to determine what would be best for your child. Otherwise, the judge will look over all plans that have been filed and make a decision on what he or she feels is best for the child.
What You Should Include
When you are putting together your parenting plan to file with the court, there are certain things you should include. While the judge may not side with you on everything, it is still important to let them know where you stand. Your opinion may help sway the court in your favor. Some things to include are:
- Holiday schedules
- Work week and weekend schedules
- Discipline methods
- Medical decisions (including vaccinations)
- Emergency medical needs
- School and grade expectations
- Drop-off and pick-up points
- Third-party visitors
- Rules around new romantic partners
- Communication methods between parent and child
- Internet and cellphone use
- Legal and physical allocation
Ultimately, you should include anything that could have a significant impact on your child’s upbringing. For example, would you be comfortable with the other parent allowing a new romantic partner around your child? At what point could a new romantic partner be allowed into your child’s life? What about discipline methods? Does the other parent believe in a discipline method, such as spanking, that you disagree with?
Consistency is very important in a child’s life. If one parent gives the child privileges that the other doesn’t, or has expectations of the child that the other doesn’t, then the child could grow up confused on what behavior is acceptable and what is not. It could also cause the child to give preferential treatment to one parent over the other, which could lead to parental alienation. But what do you do if the other parent does not agree on a parenting plan?
When You and Your Ex Disagree
When putting together your parenting plan, it is always a good idea to try to come to an agreement with the other parent. It is always best for a child when both parents can agree and work together. However, that is not always possible. Perhaps the tension between you two is simply too high, or perhaps you and the other parent have deeply different parenting philosophies. What do you do?
Well, at that point, the best you can do is put together your parenting plan and send it to the judge. Ultimately, the judge will be the one to make a final decision. He or she may choose your plan, the other parent’s plan, or a combination of the two. The judge may decide on a completely different plan altogether. Remember, the judge’s job is to create the plan that will be best for your child.
However, if you are worried about the judge’s decision, or worried that the other parent will push for a parenting plan that you disagree with, or you just need help putting a parenting plan together, then you should reach out to an experienced Illinois allocation lawyer. We at Nottage and Ward, LLP, have years of experience working with clients to create parenting plans that work for their family. To get compassion and skilled help, call us at (312) 332-2915.
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