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Parenting Schedule Basics

by Wes Cowell, updated 26 June 2016 -- suggest a correction


Illinois'  new law  (1/1/16) drops the word "visitation" in favor of "parenting time," lays out 14 factors courts must consider in making "parenting time" awards, and adds teeth to deter abuse and coerce adherence.  Need advice? Callleave your info, or scheduleschedule a consult.


Illinois parents are encouraged by the court to present to the a court a "mutually agreed written "parenting plan."  750 ILCS 5/602.7  The parenting plan is supposed to lay out significant decision-making responsibilities and a Parenting Time Schedule.  "Parenting time" is defined as:


"(e)  Parenting Time" means the time during which a parent is responsible for exercising caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making responsibilities with respect to the child."

750 ILCS 5/600 (e)


If the parents cannot communicate, cooperate, or agree, the court will allocate parenting time.  "Unless the parents present a mutually agreed written parenting plan and that plan is approved by the court, the court shall allocate parenting time."  750 ILCS 5/602.7(b) 


Parenting Schedule:  It sounds so simple . . . until you start to do it.  Work with a lawyer.  Call my office for help with forms.  The Parenting Time Schedule should address:


  1. School Year Schedule:  things usually work best when there's a regular schedule.  Family schedule can't always be regular, however, and you'll have to think about what to do when one parent must travel for work, work extended hours on assignment, police and firefighters often have unique schedules, etc.

  2. School Breaks:  When the kids are out of school for a longer period, the parenting schedule often changes.  Give some thought to whether a change would work best for your kids.

  3. Holidays:  some families celebrate more than others.  THink about what holidays mean to your kids.  You can include whatever you like; you can even make up your own:  

    • the big six: New Year's, Labor Day, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas; and

    • others, like:  the child's birthday, Mom and Dad's birthday, MLK Day, President's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Pulaski Day, Valentine's Day, Gound Hog Day . . . you get the idea.  

  4. Vacations:  How many weeks each year, how many contiguous weeks (back-to-back), how much notice must each side give, and a method for resolving vacation-scheduling conflicts.

  5. Rights of First Refual:  You don't have to include a ROFR, but if you're thinking about it, read my article on Rights of First Refusal.

  6. Transportation Resposibilities:  Who does the pick-up and who does the drop-off.  Yep, you really ought to spell it out.

  7. A Mediation Provision:  This is required in every agreement to lay out a mechanism by which the parents may -- without running back to court -- address resolving conflicts and reallocating parenting time when necessary;

  8. Communications:  WHen the child is with parent A, may / must there be daily telephonic access with parent B?  What about every-other-day?  What about once-a-week?  Maybe the word "reasonable telephonic access" would work?  What about Skype?  Facebook?  May a child follow a parent on Twitter?  What about parents following their kids?  Think about it.


There is a lot that goes in to a good Parenting Schedule . . . and the Parenting Schedule is just a small part of the overall Parenting Plan.  You have to get it right the first time, too; because you'll probably be stuck with the Parenting Schedule / Parenting Plan for at least two years.    Call my office and let us help you do it right th first time.  





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