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How does Illinois family law address a parenting plan agreement?

There is a perception that when couples in Illinois get a divorce, there will be a litany of family law issues in dispute and it can grow endlessly contentious. That is, unfortunately, true in many cases when couples are battling over property, custody of children, support and visitation rights. However, in some cases, the family legal issues are reasonably amicable and the parties can agree on most issues to facilitate a rapid end to the proceedings.

With children, they can agree on custody and a visitation plan. Still, even when there is an agreement on a parenting plan, there are legal considerations. Understanding and adhering to the law is imperative. For parents who have agreed on a parenting plan, they must have it in written form and sign it. They are then required to submit it to the court so it can be approved. This must be done within 120 days after there was a petition served to allocate parental responsibilities or when there was a filing of an appearance. If this is not done in that timeframe, there must be good cause as to why it was not.

Regardless of the legal provisions, the parents have the right to create a parenting plan and submit it at any juncture after the proceeding has started until right before there is a judgment to dissolve the marriage. When there is a completed agreement, it will be binding except in cases in which the court finds other evidence that it does not serve the child's best interests. The court will assess the circumstances of the participants. Should the court reject the proposed parenting plan, it will explain why. The court can also have an evidentiary hearing to assess the plan to decide if it serves the child's best interests.

Children can get caught in the middle in a divorce and it is vital for parents to think about them as the process moves forward. Rather than have a protracted disagreement about visitation, a parenting plan that the parties negotiated on their own can be beneficial, as long as it complies with the applicable family laws.

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