Ask A Lawyer: Can We Have A Flexible Custody Plan?

Question:

My ex and I want to share the kids equally, but we are unsure of how we would carry out this agreement. For example, whenever the kids want to stay with her, we both want them to be able to do so.  Likewise, whenever they want to stay with me, we want them to be able to do so. Flexibility is a very important issue for both of us.

Also, how does child support work when you have this sort of agreement? Is it required for a child to have a primary address, and are there financial or other repercussions for the parent who does not live at this address?

 

If there are court orders in place as to the custody and visitation, those orders set forth the default terms.  While the parties may make informal adjustments to the schedule for the children in order to be flexible, in the event of dispute the court orders must be followed.  Proposed schedules that are not specific and only provide a general statement that the parties will “agree to agree” do not provide an enforceable schedule such that courts are hesitant to approve such proposals.

Child support considerations include the parent’s direct support of the children during their period of custody, such that a set schedule of equally shared custody may warrant a variation from the “usual” child support arrangements.  However, informal changes to child support are generally not permitted and court approval of specific child support agreements is required.

The “primary” address of the child may be important for public school enrollment or other purposes that require a child to have a single legal address.  The actual residential circumstances of the child may be determinative for other purposes.  As to any other consequences arising from the custody arrangement and designation of the children’s “primary” address, as well as the acceptance by the courts in your area of “non-standard” parental agreements as to custody, visitation and support, you would need to review these issues with an experienced domestic litigation attorney, such as the Cordell & Cordell offices in your state.

 

Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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