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The New "Custody": Filing a Parenting Plan Under the New IMDMA

The New "Custody": Filing a Parenting Plan Under the New IMDMA
The new year signaled many changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act ("IMDMA"). One of the biggest changes in the new act for cases with minor children is the elimination of the term "custody." In its place is a new term: "allocation of parental responsibilities." Couples seeking to divide parenting time and decision-making responsibilities for their minor children will now need to file a Parenting Plan with the Court.

What is a Parenting Plan?
Under the revised IMDMA, a parenting plan sets forth arrangements between the parties and their minor children. Specifically, a parties' Parenting Plan allocates significant decision-making responsibilities, living arrangements, parenting time for each party.

What Must a Parenting Plan Contain?
The minimum required contents of a parenting plan are outlined in 750 ILCS 5/602.10. Among other things, the statute requires an allocation of major decision-making responsibilities (religion, health, extracurricular activities, and education), each parent's parenting time, and each parent's residential address and employment information. The statute contains a "catchall provision" that suggests the parenting plan must contain "any other provision that addresses the child's best interests or that will otherwise facilitate cooperation between the parties."

The Role of Mediation
The revised act provides that the Court must order mediation to assist the parties in formulating or modifying a parenting plan or implementing a parenting plan unless the court determines that impediments to mediation exist.

What Happens if No Parenting Plan is Filed Within 120 Days?
If parties can't agree on a parenting plan within 120 days, the Court will look at whether "good cause" exists to excuse filing. If there is good cause, the Court could extend the time for filing. However, if no parenting plan is filed, the court must conduct an evidentiary hearing to allocate parental responsibilities.

What If We Agree on a Parenting Plan?
If parties agree on a parenting plan, then the agreement is binding upon the court unless it finds that the agreement is unconscionable

What If We Can't Agree on a Parenting Plan?
If the parties can't agree on a parenting plan, each party must file and submit a written, signed parenting plan with the Court within 120 days after filing their Appearance. The Court will then conduct a trial or hearing to determine which plan is in the best interests of the child and which maximizes the child's relationship and access to both parents.

Still confused? Take a look at the flowchart below for some help!

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Interested in interviewing an experienced divorce attorney? Hurst, Robin & Kay can help you explore the different options for divorce, including traditional litigation, Collaborative Divorce and mediation. Let's talk about it today at 312.782.2400.

An Associate at HRK, Stephanie Tang joined the firm after working for three different Judges who currently preside over family law cases in three Illinois county courts. She graduated from Northwestern University with honors in Legal Studies and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from University of Illinois College of Law.

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