How to File for Parental Responsibilities in Illinois


At Johnson O’Keefe, we understand that divorce ends marriages but not families. Suppose you have kids and are separating or have filed for divorce before you file for parental responsibilities and parenting time in Illinois. In that case, it is crucial to consider your options for resolving custody.  In any Family Law circumstance, we always recommend that you contact an experienced Family Law attorney to review your case. Our team offers Legal Coaching Sessions (LCS) in the event you want to first confer with our Attorneys about your case. Another option is mediation, a process where a neutral third-party individual or firm helps you reach an agreement. Our legal team can help represent you in mediation, collaborative law, and family law court. If you have questions about your parental rights and are unsure about your parental responsibilities, our Johnson O’Keefe Family Law Attorneys can help!

Our legal Family Law team will help you with the following parental responsibilities:

    1. Help visualize and document your parenting time schedule. We will consider your needs and wants and ultimately answer what you would like your parenting plan to look like.
    2. Help you calculate your parenting time. We will consider your personal and professional commitments to allocate best how much time to spend with your child.
    3. Draft a custom parenting plan that fits your individual wants and needs.

But before we draft your individual parenting plan, we will carefully consider all lifestyle factors. Then, we will confer on your individual parenting plan draft and ensure it is to your liking before we start the filing process. At the same time, our legal team will begin the legal process to make your case move at an efficient and effective fashion.

Step 1: Open a case

To open a case, our team will file a petition on your behalf for the allocation of parental responsibilities with your local family court. We can file the petition on its own or as part of a divorce petition, separation, order of protection, or parentage case.

Our team will use all available technology to work efficiently, like filing the petition electronically or in person. Sometimes, there are specific strategic reasons why we would file in person, as this is an opportunity to confer with our local clerks.

 Step 2: Serve the other parent

Once we have filed your petition, we will also need to serve the opposing party or formally deliver the legal petition to the other party with the summons to appear in court. The summons will tell the other parent when and where they need to appear in court.

We can serve the other parent in person or by mail. If we serve the other parent in person, we can give them the documents directly to them. If we serve the other parent by regular or snail mail, we will use certified mail with the requested return receipt. This will ensure we have a record of the process should we need it in court.

Step 3: Wait for a response

Traditionally, the receiving party has 30 days to respond to the petition. They may agree to our requests and choose to settle, or we may come to an arrangement, or they may answer the petition and disagree with our requests. In this event, we will probably need to appear at court.

If the other parent fails to respond on time, we may ask the court for a default judgment. This means that the court can rule in our favor without the other party’s input.

Step 4: File a parenting plan

Traditionally, every parent has one hundred and twenty days from the initial filing to present a proposed parenting plan. The parenting plan will outline how the parents will share custody of the child.

There are rare cases where both parties agree on the parenting plan. If that is your case, our Attorneys could file a joint parenting plan after we review it in detail and find that you and the other parent agree on all custody issues. If you cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will hold a hearing to decide custody. Don’t worry; our family law team will be with you every step of the way.  

What happens next with the court?

Next, court steps depend on the individual circumstances of the case. Some parents will go to mediation before going to trial. Mediation is a voluntary process where both parties consent to participate. The neutral third party, known as a mediator, aids the parties in a family law case in reaching an agreement on their own. 

If we are unable to reach an agreement in mediation, the court will hold a trial to decide custody. At trial, our family law team will defend our parenting time petition and deliver all the evidence on why our parenting plan is the best course of action. Then, the judge will consider all of the evidence and decide based on the child’s best interests.

Tips for Child Custody Success

Here are a few tips for success when finalizing your parental responsibilities case in Illinois:

      • Be prepared. Make sure your attorney has all of the necessary paperwork and that you understand the court process.
      • Be honest with your Attorney. Your attorney will best represent you if you are honest, so it is essential to be truthful in your consultation and all your meetings with your legal team.
      • Be willing and open to confer with your legal team. There is value in coming to a compromise in order to reach a favorable agreement for your child’s needs.
      • Put the child’s best interests first. The judge will make a decision based on what is best for the child, even if it is not what you want.

If you have any questions about filing for parental responsibilities in Illinois, you should consult with an attorney like the ones at Johnson O’Keefe. Filing a parenting time petition that is not to your satisfaction can create double the work for all involved. We recommend that you consider all needs and wants and consult with an attorney before you get the court involved in your 

 Johnson O’Keefe Experienced Child Custody Attorneys

Hiring a qualified child custody attorney is essential if you are a Chicago resident facing child custody. Our Johnson O’Keefe Custody Attorneys have the skills and experience needed to effectively represent you in a parenting time petition and best protect your rights and interests. Our Johnson O’Keefe team works diligently, saving you time and stress on unnecessary family law proceedings when possible. Secure a complimentary initial consultation, take control of your life, and let our Johnson O’Keefe Divorce Team be your North Star and guide you through Child Custody!


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