Illinois law requires divorcing couples to submit to the court a parenting plan or parenting time schedule. The court allows you to create an agreed-upon arrangement outlining how you can share in parenting and spend equal time with the children.

A judge no longer needs to choose which parent gets child custody and visitation rights. The parenting plan that you and your spouse choose, however, must outline in writing how each parent will share in child-rearing responsibilities. Both you and your spouse must sign the agreement and submit it to the court for approval within 120 days of your divorce petition. The court must approve the proposed agreement using the best interests of the child standard.

How are schedules included in a parenting plan?

By creating a schedule, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can decide on when your children will reside with each parent. As explained by the Illinois General Assembly, parenting time typically outlines which days of the week or month children will reside with each spouse.

Your plan could specify which parent spends holidays, birthdays, vacations and other events with the children. Schedules could also rotate each year or split daily schedules to meet each child’s personal preferences.

Based on education, religion and extracurricular activities, you may decide to split your children’s living arrangements between two residences. When two homes are near each other, children could easily travel to and from them to meet your schedule’s requirements.

How can ex-spouses communicate to make it work?

A parenting plan should include rules for how you and your ex-spouse will communicate with your children and with each other. For example, you may wish to contact your ex by text message or email instead of having a phone conversation to verify pick-up and drop-off times. There are communication apps that help with this process.

After preparing and submitting a workable arrangement, the court may provide a final approval as part of your divorce decree.