The term ‘child visitation’ is no longer officially used in Illinois. Instead, the concept of visitation is now encompassed by the term ‘parenting time.’ Under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/602.7), the allocation of parenting time should always be in the best interests of the child. In most cases, divorced or separated parents work together to craft a parenting plan that works well to suit the unique needs of their family. Here, our Naperville and Bolingbrook family lawyers highlight six (6) key elements that should be included in a parenting time plan.
As a basis, a parenting time agreement should include a schedule. Each parent should have a clear understanding of how much time they will have with their child and when that time will occur. While parenting time schedules should generally include some degree of flexibility, it is important to have a solid, clear structure in place.
The School Year
A child’s educational needs should always be addressed within a parenting time agreement. Be sure to plan around the school year, accounting for all the child’s extracurricular activities. Problems can arise when parents fail to consider the impact that school or other related activities will have on their day-to-day schedule.
Holidays & Vacations
Next, an effective parenting time plan should address major holidays and vacations. For example: Do you know where your child is going to spend Thanksgiving? Do you know what will happen during their summer vacation? These are all issues that need to be considered.
Transportation is another potential pitfall for separated parents. As a general matter, children are not able to comply with a parenting time schedule on their own. Who is responsible for bringing the child to another location? Make sure matters of transportation are addressed within your broader parenting plan.
Even the most detailed, well-thought-out parenting time schedule cannot anticipate everything that will ever happen. Life has many twists and turns, and plans can change in an instant. Divorced/separated parents need to be able to communicate with each other in a proactive, positive manner. It is a best practice to address how communication will work within a parenting plan.
Finally, a parenting plan should include some process for resolving disagreements/disputes. Even parents who are both acting in good faith do not always see eye to eye. In Illinois, parental agreements should include a provision for mediation. If parents cannot work out their issue on their own, mediation can help to produce an effective, low conflict solution.
Call Our Illinois Parenting Time Lawyers for Immediate Assistance
At Keller Legal Services, our Illinois custody and visitation attorneys have extensive experience and can help clients come to satisfactory parenting time arrangements. If you have questions about your rights, we are available to help. For a strictly private initial consultation with an experienced family lawyer, please contact us right away. We represent parents throughout the region, including Naperville and Bolingbrook.