Illinois’ courts do not make a determination about “custody” when the parents of a child divorce or separate; instead, they address parenting time. Parenting time, as found in Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, simply means the time in which a parent is responsible for exercising caretaking responsibilities with respect to a child. The amount of time that each parent is allocated is determined by a couple’s parenting plan. It is important to note that parenting time and significant decision making responsibilities are not synonymous. For help understanding parenting time in Illinois and gaining parenting time with your child after divorce, contact The Law Offices of Jenet G. Pequeno, LLC for a case consultation.
How Is Parenting Time Allocated?
Illinois code requires that parenting time be allocated in the best interests of the child. Parents of a child have a right to submit a parenting plan that is mutually agreed upon that addresses the amount of parenting time that will be allocated to each parent; if parents are unable to do so, then the court will make the determination for them. According to code, factors that will be considered in determining a child’s best interests in regards to parenting time include:
- The wishes of each parent;
- The wishes of the child, assuming the child is of a certain maturity;
- The amount of time that each parent spends performing caretaking duties in regards to the child;
- An existing agreement between the parents in regards to caretaking responsibilities;
- The relationship between the child and each of their parents;
- The child’s adjustment to community, home, and school;
- The physical and mental health of all individuals involved;
- The distance between each parent’s home;
- The child’s specific needs;
- Any history of violence or threat of violence;
- The willingness of each parent to foster a positive relationship between the child and their other parent;
- Any convictions of sex offenses; and
- Any other factors that could affect the child’s best interests.
Forming a Parenting Plan
It is almost always best to create a parenting plan with your (ex) spouse rather than having a court make a determination about parenting time for you. When a court makes a decision, all power is taken from your hands. Further, if you and your spouse can come to an agreement about parenting time, it can set the groundwork for how you will work together in the future. When you agree on the parenting plan, it can also foster a more positive relationship between you and your child’s parent, which can be beneficial for the child’s emotional health.
How a Family Law Attorney Can Help
For obvious reasons, it is not always possible for an individual and their spouse to come to an agreement about parenting time. When this is the case, your experienced Illinois family law attorney can present your side to the court, and may improve chances of the parenting time decision being resolved in your favor. If you and your spouse are in agreement, a lawyer can review the agreement to ensure it is legally sound before you side. Contact The Law Offices of Jenet G. Pequeno, LLC today for a consultation to discuss your parenting time dilemma today.