If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, the welfare and upbringing of your children will be top priority.
Illinois law requires that divorcing couples develop a parenting plan that includes “caretaking functions” for the benefit of their children.
Creating a parenting plan
A parenting plan is a written agreement drawn up between divorcing parents for the purpose of caring for their children going forward. The agreement focuses on allocating decision-making responsibilities and arranging for parenting time. The state sets a time limit on the development process and requires that, as part of that process, the divorcing couple participate in mediation.
Observing caretaking functions
Illinois law defines caretaking functions as “tasks that involve interaction with a child or that direct, arrange, and supervise the interaction” and cites several different kinds:
- Caring for a child’s nutritional needs, managing daily routines and caring for the child during an illness
- Directing the developmental needs of the child
- Providing the child with instruction on behavioral control, self-restraint and discipline
- Ensuring attendance in school, medical and dental appointments
- Caring for the child’s moral and ethical requirements
Focusing on the future
The law addresses both parenting time and major decision-making responsibilities. While it focuses on joint decision-making, the law does not assume that children will share equal time with parents. In most cases, one parent maintains the primary home and the other arranges to spend quality time with the children on weekends and holidays, during the summer and various days off. Once the divorcing couple has created a parenting plan that works for them and for their children, the next step is to present it to the court for approval. Life after divorce will contain a different set of boundaries, responsibilities and goals for every member of the family, and caretaking functions under Illinois law seek to help everyone adjust and benefit as they enter the next stage of their lives.