Your children are probably the most important thing in your life, and you could never imagine being away from them for an extended time. For that reason, the idea of splitting parenting time with a former spouse or partner can sometimes seem unbearable.
While a shared parenting arrangement may take some adjustment for everyone in a child’s life, there is a great deal a family attorney could do to facilitate that process. An experienced Mokena child custody lawyer could help you create a parenting plan that minimizes interruptions in your children’s daily lives.
Several legal terms are commonly used to describe issues of child custody. These terms can be confusing without a Mokena child custody attorney on hand to clarify their meaning, especially because many of them were recently changed.
For example, the term “Allocation Judgment”—or parenting plan—refers to the document that is entered into during a divorce or paternity case between two parents. This document describes where the children will live, when each parent will have parenting time with the children, and who will pay child support.
Before the law changed in 2016, courts in Illinois referred to the parent with whom the child spent the most time as the “custodial parent,” while the other parent had “visitation.” Courts today, use the terms “Allocation of Parental Responsibility,” “Parenting Time,” and other new terms that are used to eliminate some of the confusion caused by “custody.”.
As such, Illinois state law now refers to this arrangement as the “allocation of parenting time and responsibility.” This type of language avoids the implication that there is a loser or winner in a custody battle such as “primary custody”—instead, there is a sliding scale of time and responsibility that can fluctuate between the parents as their circumstances change.
In a divorce or paternity action, the allocation of parental responsibility is always determined by what is in the best interests of your children. Above all else, the courts are obligated to ensure that any decision made will not harm the children and will create as little disruption to the child’s life as is necessary.
As a parent, you must make many decisions about your during a divorce or paternity case, including where the children will spend their physical time. If you cannot agree, the Judge assigned will make this major decision on behalf of your children. Usually, the parent with less physical parenting time with the children pays child support to the parent who has more time. This helps prevent one parent from shouldering all the financial burdens of feeding, housing, dressing, and caring for the children. There are some important exceptions that are too numerous to cover here.
It is also important to determine who has decision-making power about significant life choices in the child’s life, which was formerly known as legal custody. We now call this the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities, which includes only four major decisions: (1) Education, (2) Religion, (3) Extracurricular Activities, and (4) Health care.
Often, parents agree to split this power equally and make joint decisions for their children’s welfare. However, in cases where one parent is abusive or absent, the other parent may retain all this authority themselves.
Once parents agree on how to split their parenting time, nearly every other type of decision—from holidays to pets to grandparent visitation—can be decided and provided for in a parenting agreement. A child custody lawyer in Mokena could help establish such an agreement and make sure it is enforceable and equitable.
The key to building a successful parenting plan is to be flexible. As children age and circumstances change, parents need to be able to adapt without having to go to court to change their agreement once a year.
By working with a knowledgeable Mokena child custody lawyer, you could create a plan that will adapt with you and provide stability for you and your family. Don’t wait to get started—contact an experienced child custody attorney today to start exploring your legal options.