Shared Custody and Joint Parenting Agreements

joint parenting agreement, child custody, Arlington Heights Family Law AttorneyAs a parent, you will always want what is best for your child. In a difficult situation, however, figuring out what is best may be extremely challenging. Negotiating arrangements for child custody can be among the most difficult situations a parent will ever face. However, for parents wishing to maintain shared or joint custody of their child must approach the situation with a sense of cooperation and dedication to the child, regardless of anything else.

Joint Custody

Parents who are divorced or unmarried may seek a joint custody arrangement for their child, which grants them both the legally recognized right to make decisions regarding the raising of the child. They will be expected to work together in creating an environment in which the child will thrive and enjoy a healthy relationship with each parent. While Illinois law does not require a court to work from a “default” position regarding joint or sole custody, it is generally accepted that active, positive participation in the child’s life by both parents is always in the child’s best interest.

However, requesting joint custody often requires more from the parents than a simple petition. The law requires the court to determine custody based on the best interest of the child, not necessarily the wishes of the parents. Therefore, in seeking shared custody, parents are often asked to demonstrate to the court that such an arrangement would benefit the child. This is often done in the form of a coparenting plan or a joint parenting agreement.

Joint Parenting Agreements

At its most basic, a joint parenting agreement is a form of contract between the parents outlining each party’s rights and responsibilities in relationship to their child. There is no single correct method for developing a joint parenting agreement, nor is there any particular wrong way. The right agreement is one that meets the child’s needs in his or her unique set of circumstances. Many joint parenting agreements, however, do include similar considerations, often including:

  • Which decisions each parent may make on behalf of the child;
  • A shared parenting time schedule, as detailed or as flexible as necessary;
  • Educational, religious, or healthcare concerns;
  • Methods for communication and dispute resolution;
  • How breaches of the agreement are to be handled; and
  • Many other potential issues.

While simply drafting a joint parenting agreement may not be enough to convince the court to grant joint custody, a well-organized and comprehensive agreement is a good start. The court is required by law to consider a number of other factors as well, but a cooperative spirit between parents is frequently an indication that the best interest of the child remains a high priority.

If you are a single or divorced parent looking to maintain joint custody of your child, a qualified child custody lawyer can help you develop a workable joint parenting agreement. Contact an experienced Arlington Heights family law attorney today to schedule your free consultation. Our team knows how important your child is to you and is ready to help you prove it.

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