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When parents share legal custody

In the state of Illinois, what many people think of as child custody is called parenting time. However, there is another element to custody that is commonly known as legal custody. This refers to which parent has the right to make decisions about major aspects of a child's life such as health care, religion and education. Legal custody is often shared, and there are advantages and disadvantages to doing so.

Shared legal custody can work well if the parents have a good coparenting relationship and both parents are responsible and regular participants in parenting. However, even if there is a lot of conflict between parents, they may still be able to create an effective co-parenting relationship. It can be good for children to see their parents work through disagreements and reach solutions. On the other hand, forcing parents to collaborate does not guarantee that they will be able to do so.

Another potential advantage of shared legal custody is that when a parent has to make a stressful decision, it can be helpful to have the input of the other parent. However, if one parent has a tendency to be unavailable, this may not be the best solution. Even when parents are cooperative, it can sometimes be impractical for them to confer on every decision.

Having to return to court after divorce to have a modification made to a parenting plan is not ideal, but it may help parents in negotiating this plan to keep in mind that is is possible to do so. Parents should work hard to stick to the plan as agreed upon, but they are also not bound to an unworkable plan. Other reasons that parents might need to return to court for a modification include relocation or a change in child support payments.

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