Let’s say you and your spouse have both come to the sad conclusion that you need a divorce. Getting divorced has a lot of steps that you will need to complete. If you and your spouse have children together, one of those steps will be determining child custody.
If you and your spouse are still on good terms, it may be tempting to play custody by ear — that is, avoid creating a detailed parenting schedule. But while working out a more formal plan may seem like a guaranteed argument, in the long run it is better, as an attorney recently explained in the Huffington Post.
While the two of you are able to be good co-parents right now without a schedule, this may not always be the case. As time goes on, bitterness or anger over the split can spill over into disputes about child care. Unfortunately, some parents put their kids in the middle by withholding custody or visitation time. Without a plan in place, it will be much more difficult to enforce your parental tights in court, if it ever comes to that.
One common reason for hesitation is the concern that a parenting plan would be too rigid. But it does not have to be. Think of a parenting plan as a blueprint, rather than an immobile structure. It is the default plan, but when things come up, the parents can be flexible and temporarily change the schedule.
Finally, in many states, including Illinois, the law requires parents to create a parenting plan before the judge can finalize their divorce. So it is in everyone’s best interest to do it.