When you are in the midst of a divorce, it may seem very tempting to just sit back and the let a judge make the difficult decisions. Of course, this approach fails to account for the multiple court appearances that will be probably be necessary, and the fact that you will still need to provide the court with all of the information and evidence relevant to your case. Divorce laws in Illinois explicitly promote amicable agreements between divorcing spouses whenever possible. Divorcing parents, in particular, are expected to work together in developing a plan for cooperative parenting and protecting their children’s best interests.
Parents Know Best
There are many examples in Illinois family law indicating that a court must presume that parents will act in the best interest of their child. This is based on the idea that, unless proven otherwise, parents are equipped to fully understand the situation at hand and to make decisions for their child that are ultimately beneficial.
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the same concept applies to co-parenting and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Rather than assuming that courts should make parenting judgments, the law requires divorcing parents to develop a strategy for parenting together. The plan, of course, must be reviewed and approved by the court, but the court will only make changes or enter a judgment of its own when absolutely necessary to protect the child’s interests.
According to the law, once a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities—formerly called “child custody”—has begun, parents have 120 days to file a proposed parenting plan. The plan must address each party’s rights, decision-making authority, parenting time schedule, and a number of other concerns required by law. The deadline may be extended if either parent can show good cause. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, the court has the authority to order mediation to assist in the process. Should mediation ultimately fail, or if either party refuses to participate in good faith, the court may allocate parental responsibilities, likely taking the refusal to cooperate into account.
A parenting plan that addresses all of the appropriate concerns and that is reasonable to both parents will be approved by the court and entered as part of the divorce judgment. Parents can later amend the plan either by agreement or by showing of a substantial change in circumstances.
Legal Advocates for Parents
If you have questions about divorce, parenting plans, or the allocation of parental responsibilities, contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney. We will help you find the answers you need so that you can make an informed, responsible decision about how to proceed with your case. Call 630-462-1980 to schedule an appointment at Andrew Cores Family Law Group today.