finalized, the Parenting Agreement will govern resolution of the dispute and
should be consulted prior to filing documents in court.

TOPICS.  The children issues covered in the PA depend on what issues are
covered in the Marital Settlement Agreement.  At a minimum the PA must assign
the legal custody and physical custody of the child/children.


CUSTODY.  The Parenting Agreement must the custodial agreement of the
parties.  Custody is defined both in both legal and physical terms.

Legal.  The most common types of custody in Illinois are sole and joint.  

Sole custody.  Sole legal custody is where the custodian has final decision-
making powers in all circumstances but should still keep the non-custodial
parent aware of any developments with the child/children.  The sole custodian
will also be the physical custodian.

Joint custody.  Joint legal custody is where the parents work together to raise
the child/children and can communicate and cooperate in a fashion that is in
the best interest of the child.  Final decision-making power is determined in
joint legal custody

Physical.  Physical custody refers to the physical placement of the child/children
and can also be called primary custody or residential custody.  If a parent has
sole legal custody, the parent will also be the physical custodian and have the
final decision-making power.  If the parents have agreed to joint legal custody,
then the parent have the option of having joint physical custody or selecting a
physical custodian.

Joint Physical.  Joint physical custody refers to a visitation schedule whereby
each parent has the child/children close to 50% of the time and equally share in
the responsibility of raising the child.  In such a situation, child support may not
be ordered.  This means that each parent has equal decision-making power as
to all issues with the child/children unless the parenting agreement denotes a
parent with specific power over specific issues.

VISITATION.  The Parenting Agreement must declare when the child/children
will be in the custody of which parent.  The general rule is that every other
weekend is rotated.  If the parents live close together then weekday visits may
be an option.  The work schedules of the parents must be taken into
consideration along with daycare, preschool, or school.

Schedule.  A visitation schedule varies depending on the situation of the
parents.  If one parent moves to another city or county, weekday visitation may
not be an option due to travel times.  The extracurricular activities of the
child/children may require changes in the visitation schedule during basketball,
soccer, or track.  

Holidays.  When setting up a visitation schedule, many parents do not consider
visitation during the holiday.  Generally speaking holidays are rotated with each
parent having certain holidays on even years and the other holidays on odd
years.  A common exception to the rotating holiday schedule is Christmas Eve
and Christmas Day.  Although these days can be rotated, if one parent's family
celebrates Christmas every year on Christmas Eve, then that parent will want
Christmas Eve every year or vice versa.  Or if one parent has a family reunion
every Labor Day, then the other parent can have every Memorial Day.

Summer.  Many visitation schedules change during the summer months as the
child does need to be rested for school and complete homework.  These
changes can include extended hours, additional days, or even lengthy stays
with the non-custodial parent.

Vacation.  A parent is allowed to remove child/children from Illinois for the
purchase of vacation so long as the other parent is giving the destination and a
phone number, usually a cell phone or hotel number, by which the parent and
child/children can be contacted.  Many times each parent is allowed vacation
time with the child with specific requirements for notification of such vacation

CHILD SUPPORT.  The person who is paying child support is called the obligor.  
The recipient of child support is called the obligee.

Statutory Provisions.  Illinois statute requires child support to be paid based on
net income and dictates how net income is determined.  The obligor will pay a
percentage of net income based on the number of children.  The percentage
applies to each custodial parent with which the obligor has a child or children.

1 child                20%
2 children          28%
3 children          32%
4 children          40%     

MEDICAL DECISIONS.  The level of decision-making a parent has in regard to
the medical needs of the child/children depends on the type of physical and
legal custody of the parent and the parenting agreement. The level of medical
decision-making does not apply to a medical emergency.  

RELIGIOUS DECISIONS.  The level of decision-making a parent has in regard to
the religious upbringing of the child/children depends on what type of physical
and legal custody of the parent and what is written in the parenting agreement.

EDUCATION.  Each parent has the right to be listed as the parent and an
emergency contact at the schools of the child/children.  The non-custodial
parent is entitled to receive all information concerning the education and welfare
of child/children from the school.

RULES OF JOINT PARENTING.  If the parents can work together sufficiently to
jointly raise the child/children, the rules of such parenting must be set forth in
the parenting agreement.

Communication.  With child/children.  Each parent is allowed to communicate
with the child/children without censorship, frustration, or interference of the other
parent.  Neither parent shall discuss any financial issues with the
child/children.  Neither parent shall speak unfavorably of the other parent to the

Communication.  With other parent.  Each parent shall communication with
each other in professional, professional, and dignified in the presence of the
child/children.  Neither parent shall say derogatory statements about the other
parent that the child/children may hear (as in voicemail) or see (as in an email)
or hear from a third party.

Encouragement.  Each parent shall work toward creating an atmosphere of
love, concern, respect, and affection by the child/children and to the
child/children from each parent.  Each parent shall fully cooperate in promoting
and encouraging a relationship with the child/children that will provide for the
child/children a feeling of security and contentment whenever possible.  Each
parent shall prepare and encourage the child/children for visitation with the
other parent.

Information.  Each parent shall supply the other parent with an address, phone
number, and employment information and update the information in a timely

Visitation.   Each parent shall notify the other as soon as possible as to any
disruption, modification, or a request for change in visitation.  Each parent shall
work with the other to arrange a visitation schedule, which shall take into
account the child/children's best interest academically, educationally, socially,
physically, and spiritually.  Each parent must keep in mind that the best interest
of the child comes before the visitation of the parent.  All extracurricular activities
will have precedence over visitation.  However, the other parent must arrange a
make-up visitation as soon as possible.  

MEDIATION REQUIREMENT.  The Illinois Supreme Court requires parents to
attend mediation if every detail of custody and visitation is not agreed upon.  As
such, most parenting agreements require
mediation before returning to court
for custody or visitation problems.  It is best for the parents to try to settle the
problems outside of the courtroom to potentially avoid court costs, attorney's
fees, and further damage to the parent's relationship.  Some judges will
dismiss custody and visitation petitions if the parties have not attended or at
least requested mediation prior to filing the petition.

ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS.  A parenting agreement is similar to a contract and
any additional provisions the parents agree upon can be included.  Examples of
such are:

  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Consumption of illegal drugs
  • Ability of a parent to have overnight guests of the opposite sex unless the
    person lives with the parent or is married to the parent
  • Prohibited babysitters or daycare providers
  • Persons with whom the child/children may no have contact with
  • Right to have the child before the child/children is taken to daycare