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IL family lawyerWhen parents are divorced or unmarried, having a court specifying the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time is essential. Not only does a parenting plan ensure that parents understand their rights and expectations regarding parenting duties, it also provides valuable stability in the life of the child. If parents cannot agree on the terms of their parenting plan, the court will step in and make a decision on the unresolved issues for the parents. Whether parents reach a parenting plan agreement on their own or the court hands down a decision for them, parents are required by law to adhere to the plan. Failure to do so can result in charges for parental abduction.

What Is Parental Abduction?

From time to time, parents may mistakenly fail to comply with the provisions set forth in the parenting plan. A parent may forget to drop off their child for the other parent’s allotted parenting time or lose track of time. Minor instances like these do not constitute parental abduction.

However, when a parent refuses to comply with the parenting plan, forcibly removes a child from the other parent, or conceals a child at an unknown location, the parent may be guilty of parental abduction.

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IL family lawyerWhen you get a divorce in Illinois, the state requires you and your spouse to submit a parenting plan for any minor children you may have. The ideal option is to come to an agreement with your spouse about how you will handle child-related issues, like parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. However, if you cannot come to an agreement, the court will be forced to make certain decisions about parenting time and decision-making responsibilities for you.

Elements Considered to Determine Your Child’s “Best Interests”

If the court determines that the judge must make certain decisions for you and your spouse concerning your parenting plan, the judge will do so based upon the best interests of your child. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the elements that are involved when making a determination on the child’s best interests include:

  • The child’s wishes, taking into consideration their age and ability to form independent opinions
  • How well the child has been fitting into his or her home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of the child and the parents
  • The level of cooperation between the parents
  • The willingness between each parent to help the child maintain a close relationship with the other parent
  • The child’s needs
  • The wishes of each parent
  • Whether or not there has been a history or threat of physical violence or abuse to the child or another member of the child’s household
  • The quality of the relationship between the child and their parents and other members of his or her family
  • The willingness of each parent to put the child’s needs ahead of their own

In many cases involving contested child issues, a guardian ad litem is assigned to the case to help the judge understand the above elements as they pertain to the individual child’s case. The guardian ad litem acts as the child’s representation in hearings and will conduct his or her own research to determine what the child’s best interests are. Once they have completed gathering information, they prepare a report that they then share with the court. The judge does not have to go with the recommendation of the guardian ad litem, but they usually do.

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IL family lawyerParents filing for divorce in Illinois are required to complete additional steps throughout the divorce process. Not only do they create arrangements as a couple, such as dividing their marital assets and determining spousal maintenance, but they must also decide how they will continue to care for their children after the end of their marriage. When creating a parenting plan, divorcing parents consider all aspects of their children’s lives, such as their physical and emotional needs, academic and extracurricular schedules, and more. But what about the changes that are bound to happen in the child’s life? How can a parenting plan be prepared for the unexpected?

Parenting Plan Modifications

The Illinois court system recognizes that divorce agreements do not always last the tests of time, especially when it comes to parenting plans. Within a parenting plan, divorcing parents will designate parenting time, the allocation of parental responsibilities, and child support. Parenting time outlines where and when the child will be living with each parent while the allocation of parental responsibilities states what decision-making capabilities each parent has. All of these decisions are made in the best interests of the child and should reflect that moving forward. If you find that certain parts of your parenting plan are not working, you are able to update your plan in a process known as post-decree modifications. For those who completed their divorce outside of a courtroom, you and your co-parent will need to reconvene with the help of your attorneys to make these adjustments. For those who had a trial divorce, a judge will need to listen to your requests and make decisions on your behalf.

The following areas of your parenting plan can be modified:

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Glen Ellyn family law attorney child custody

In most cases, children’s parents who are not married try to live near each other to remain in their child’s life and maintain a good relationship. Some families, however, do not have both parents living in the same state. Maybe one parent had to relocate for their job or perhaps the parent moved out of state before realizing that they were having a child at all. Regardless of the reason behind the state spread, both parents continue to have rights and responsibilities over their child. Parents who are unmarried should have a parenting agreement created to ensure that these rights and responsibilities are outlined and have legal backing by a court of law. In cases like these, which state takes on the role of creating and enforcing child custody arrangements and parenting plans?

Interstate Child Custody

Making child custody agreements between states is known as interstate child custody. Unlike same-state parents, those living in two separate areas have additional hoops to jump through. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was created in 1997 to address this discrepancy first hand. This act is accepted nationwide and sets forth parameters regarding interstate custody. According to the UCCJEA, the primary determining factor when it comes to deciding which state has jurisdiction over the issue is where the child resides. 

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