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What to include in a parenting plan

Determining who gets the children and when is a core part of the divorce process. The name for this used to be child custody, but state law now refers to it as the allocation of parental responsibilities. The point of the change was to eliminate a win-lose feeling and remind parents that both of them are important to the well-being of children and are responsible for their care no matter who has the children more often.

Deciding on parental responsibilities involves formulating a parenting plan, a formal legal document that outlines the duties of each parent. Understanding what to put in it can help you create a plan that is effective.

What is already in a parenting plan

Illinois asserts that both parents have the following rights and responsibilities:

  • Access to records from medical facilities, school and child care
  • Information about extracurricular activities and scheduling
  • Knowledge concerning travel plans, medical care emergencies, standard health care and other relevant issues
  • Power to make daily decisions such as discipline and chores when children are with them

The plan also outlines what to do if one parent wishes to relocate, has a disagreement over the plan or wants to modify the terms.

What you need to include in the plan

You will need to choose who will make major decisions on health care, education, recreational activities and religion. You can allocate each responsibility to one or both parents. Another aspect to determine is parenting time, or when the children will spend time with each of you, including on holidays and school breaks. This also entails appointing transportation, an exchange location and communication between the children and parent they are away from.

You can submit a joint plan you both agree on. If you cannot reach an agreement, you can each submit your own plan, and the court will make the final ruling on the terms.

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