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Mediating parenting time in Illinois

Illinois Is nearly a year into the practice of the first major reforms to its divorce and child custody laws in nearly forty years, but many parents who are just now entering into the divorce process are still coming to terms with what these changes mean for them now that divorce is no the table. For many parents, it can be overwhelming to approach the idea of developing a parenting plan with a spouse they are divorcing, but it is important to remember that this portion of the process is intended to truly put the needs and interests of the child front-and-center.

As a part of your custody agreement, you are now looking at negotiating "allocation of parental responsibilities" and "parenting time" in lieu of terms like "custody" and "visitation." While this may seem like a simple matter of semantics, it does speak to the larger responsibility you have as a parent — namely, to put aside your differences with your spouse in order to focus on what your child needs. These changes in terminology underscore the importance of the child's needs over the parents rights or wants.

If you find that you are unable to agree on acceptable terms for your parenting plan, you will be instructed to undertake mediation with a qualified professional to help achieve an agreement. This step is intended to formalize the state's commitment to giving children the best chance at having the best life possible. If, after the mediation, the parents are still unable to reach agreement to present to the court, then the court will make a ruling for them, effectively removing their ability to have much input in the process.

If you are in a divorce, it is vital to remember that your child will be on the receiving end of all your decisions. For those that need help reaching a fair agreement regarding sharing parenting responsibilities, the guidance of an experienced attorney can help you negotiate a compromise that is best for everyone, while keeping the child's needs at the heart of the matter.

Source: Daily Journal, "What you need to know about the new child custody and alimony laws in Illinoi," accessed Nov. 11, 2016

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