Illinois parents who are divorcing may find negotiating child custody and visitation to be one of the most difficult parts of the split. The parenting plan is a tool that may help ease conflict as well as defining boundaries in a way leaves both parents and children feeling more secure.

A parenting plan deals with joint and legal custody as well as other related matters. It may be as detailed as parents like, and in many cases, attention to detail is what makes the plan so useful. This forces a discussion of issues that may arise and plans for dealing with them. Furthermore, if parents set down everything they discuss in writing, they will have a record of their agreement to refer to rather than arguing about who said what. The plan can be used to help resolve conflict and perhaps even avoid going to court if modifications are needed.

A detailed plan lets children and others, such as school officials, know that the parents are serious about working toward the best interests of the child. Parents also have the opportunity to establish a cooperative relationship that can carry them through the years when their children are minors and into later years of sharing grandchildren.

Coming to an agreement about physical custody may be one of the most painful parts of the parenting plan to negotiate. Most parents will struggle with the idea of giving up some of their time with their children. An attorney can often be able to view the situation without the emotion the parent brings to it and make suggestions that will benefit both the parent and the child over the long run.