A divorce is not the only event that may require Illinois parents to address the future of their children. Parents who have chosen to bring children into the world outside of formalized marriages may confront their own unique issues in the event that they elect to end their relationships. Although some similarities will exist between child custody matters for married and unmarried parents, several important differences make it imperative that unmarried parents understand their rights.
A parenting plan is the schedule and set of expectations that Illinois parents agree to follow when they must share custody of their children. They are often created in conjunction with divorces and may be created based on the negotiations of the children's parents. There are some key terms that should be included in each parenting plan to make sure that it is sufficient to support the best interests of the child or children that it concerns.
When parents in Illinois work to establish a child custody plan that will dictate where their children will spend their time, they are tasked with ensuring that the product they come up with serves their kids' best interests. This can be a daunting undertaking for many reasons. If the parents share multiple kids they may find that their children's needs are different from those of their siblings, and they may also find that their kids' needs change over time.
Having a child is hard, but having more than one child can be even harder. Ask any parent of multiple children what it is like to juggle the lives of several dependents and they may launch into a discussion of varying schedules, differing needs and changing expectations. What a child in Springfield needs when they are a baby is different from what they need as a teenager, and a parent of more than one child must constantly adjust as their kids grow and learn.
As previously discussed on this Springfield family law blog, a child's best interests will guide matters related to their custody. To this end, different children may have very different plans that establish where they will live, if and when they will visit with their parents and how their custody will be divided. This post will briefly touch on one important way parents may share custody of their children, which is "joint custody."
A previous post on this blog talked about how a guardian ad litem can be a valuable resource to fathers, as well as mothers, when it comes to solving a child custody case. This blog has also mentioned that mediation is a good way for parents to work out their issues regarding child custody and parenting time outside of court.
A two parent, one-household dynamic used to be the standard family unit in decades past. However, since nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, the reality is that these days some parents must carry on their parental roles separate from the other parent. Even when parents make their best attempts to keep a family a unit, it is sometimes best to end a marriage for everyone involved. Thus, parents in Illinois and elsewhere need to consider how they can meet the needs of their child moving forward.