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Divorces are difficult, and they often become even more contentious when there are child custody issues at stake. Often, parents will get into heated disagreements about physical and legal custody of the children, which can make a difficult family situation even more problematic. Illinois recently changed the way the state law looks at child custody and visitation matters (750 ILCS 5/). Now, instead of awarding custody to one or both parents, the court does something a little bit different: it allocates parental responsibilities.
If you have questions about your case, a child custody lawyer in Park Ridge can help.
Understanding the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities in Park Ridge, Illinois
When a court allocates parental responsibilities, what is it allocating? Broadly speaking, Illinois courts allocate parental responsibilities in two different ways:
- Significant decision-making responsibilities; and
- Caretaking functions, or parenting time.
To better understand how this works, you might think back to the former awarding of legal and physical custody, and visitation. Currently, when a court allocates significant decision-making responsibilities, that allocation is similar to what we used to consider legal custody. A parent does not have to provide physical care of the child in order to make significant decisions about the child’s upbringing. Similarly, a parent can be allocated certain caretaking functions, and can have parenting time, without being allocated significant decision-making responsibilities. The allocation of caretaking functions and parenting time look similar to what we used to describe as physical custody and visitation.
Factors in the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
Ultimately when the court allocates parental responsibilities, it will do so based on what it determines is in the best interests of the child or children. Under the law, unless the parents present a parenting plan upon which they mutually agree, the court can take into account some of the following factors when allocating parental responsibilities:
- Wishes of each parent;
- Wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s age and maturity;
- Amount of time each parent has spent performing caretaking functions;
- Prior agreement between the parents concerning caretaking functions;
- Child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- Mental and physical health of the parties;
- Distance between parents’ residences;
- Needs of the child;
- History of abuse or violence.
There are additional factors that the court can consider, and a Park Ridge attorney can help to explain how the specific facts in your case are likely to be addressed when it comes to the allocation of parental responsibilities.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Park Ridge
This shift in the language of the law emphasizes that parents are not “winning” anything, or in a competition, when it comes to child custody matters. Instead, the court wants to ensure that, as long as it is in the best interests of the child, that both parents play a role in the child’s upbringing. Rather than making determinations about child custody and visitation, the court can now be flexible in making decisions about who will make significant decisions about the child’s upbringing, and who will provide caretaking functions for the child. In many family situations, these parental responsibilities are shared.
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