When parents talk about child custody cases in Illinois in connection with a separation or a divorce, they are talking about a process known as the allocation of parental responsibilities under Illinois law. Illinois law changed relatively recently so that courts no longer award child custody, and they no longer use the language of sole custody, joint custody, or visitation. Instead, courts allocate parental responsibilities, and those parental responsibilities include significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. If you have questions or concerns, you should seek advice as soon as you can from an Illinois child custody lawyer who can help with your case.
What Are Parental Responsibilities and Allocations?
The aim of allocating parental responsibilities, instead of awarding child custody, is to create more flexibility for family situations and to recognize the different ways that parents play important roles in the upbringing of their children. There are two types of parental responsibilities that will be allocated:
- Significant decision-making responsibilities; and
- Parenting time.
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), significant decision-making responsibilities are defined as “deciding issues of long-term importance in the child’s life,” including the child’s education, health care, and religious upbringing.
Parenting time, under the IMDMA, is when a parent spends time with the children, day-to-day, taking care of their basic daily needs. The IMDMA describes these daily caretaking tasks as interacting with the child or arranging the care of the child by third parties.
How Illinois Courts Allocate Parental Responsibilities
Parental responsibilities can be allocated in one of two ways:
- Through a parenting plan; or
- Through an allocation judgment.
When parents are able to develop a parenting plan in which they allocate parental responsibilities, including significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time, the court can approve that parenting plan as long as it is in the best interests of the child. However, if the parents cannot reach an agreement about how parental responsibilities should be allocated, then the court will allocate responsibilities through an allocation judgment. The court determines how to allocate parental responsibilities by deciding what is in the best interests of the child.
In order to determine what is in the best interests of the child in terms of the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will look at a wide variety of factors. Examples of factors that the court may consider include the wishes of the child if the child is mature enough to express a reasoned choice; the mental and physical health of all of the parties, the parents’ willingness to cooperate with one another, the child’s needs, and whether a restriction on parental responsibilities may be appropriate.
Contact Our Illinois Child Custody Lawyers
If you have any questions about the allocation of parental responsibilities or need assistance with your case, one of our experienced Illinois child custody attorneys can speak with you today. Contact Arami Law, Inc. for more information.