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Kane County family law attorneysIf you are a parent whose time with your child has been limited due to a divorce, it can be very difficult for you to maintain the relationship with your child that you wish to have. This may be especially true if the other parent has been granted a majority of the parenting time and you only see your child a few days each month. Illinois law, however, allows parents in such a situation to include provisions in their parenting plan that could create extra parenting time opportunities under certain circumstances.

Defining the Right of First Refusal

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), your parenting plan should address what is called “the right of first refusal” regarding your child. If you have the right of first refusal, it means that the other parent must contact you and offer you the opportunity to care for your child if the other parent would otherwise need to find a sitter or alternative childcare. Depending on how your parenting plan is structured, you may be required to offer the same opportunity to the other parent if and when you need someone to care for your child. It is important to note that including the right of first refusal in your parenting plan does not obligate you to accept every such opportunity; the right of first refusal refers to optional additional parenting time.

Setting the Parameters

If the right of first refusal is going to be a part of your parenting plan, specific rules on how it will be utilized need to be determined. One element is the duration. For example, will the other parent need to call and offer the right if he or she only has a two-hour meeting after work one day? Or, will the right of first refusal be reserved for longer periods such as overnights or a certain minimum number of hours?

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Kane County family law attorneysIf you are a parent residing in Illinois and you are planning to divorce, you and your child’s other parent will need to make decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. You will have 120 days after you file for divorce to file a proposed parenting plan. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of the plan, the court may need to intervene. There are a number of considerations the parenting plan must contain including decisions about when the child will spend time with each parent, each parent’s decision-making authority, and more.

Required Parenting Plan Elements

Parents are encouraged to make as many parenting decisions in advance as possible. The more issues parents work out during the creation of the parenting plan, the less likely they will experience conflict during their post-divorce co-parenting relationship.

Although you may choose to add additional items in your parenting plan, the required elements include:

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Kane County parenting plan attorneysIf you are a parent who is considering divorce or have already decided to end your marriage, you probably worry about how the divorce will affect your children. If you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse wish to share parenting responsibilities regarding your children, you will be required to formulate a parenting agreement. This parenting agreement must contain certain provisions, including schedules for parenting time and a determination of who will make major decisions about the child’s upbringing.

A parenting agreement can be an extremely effective tool for making sure that you and your child’s other parent are on the same page regarding parental responsibilities. A thorough parenting agreement can address co-parenting issues now and help prevent misunderstandings and conflict in the future.

What Must Be Included in an Illinois Parenting Plan?

After filing a divorce petition or parentage action, parents have 120 days to file a temporary parenting plan. Eventually, parents will need to agree on how parental responsibilities and parenting time are shared in a permanent parenting plan. Parents who cannot agree on these issues will likely be sent to mediation. The provisions required in an Illinois parenting agreement include but are not limited to:

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