Cook County Child Custody

Cook County Child Custody

Illinois Family Law Attorney Assisting Clients with Child Custody Cases in Cook County

If you are getting divorced and have minor children, or if you are separating from your child’s other parent, it is extremely important to have an experienced Cook County child custody lawyer on your side to help with your case. A compassionate advocate at Arami Law Office can speak with you today about your child custody case.

Changes to Child Custody Law in Cook County

As you may know, Illinois law no longer awards child custody or visitation to parents. Instead, courts allocate parental responsibilities. Recognizing the need for flexibility when it comes to the parent-child relationship while also acknowledging that a relationship with both parents often is in the best interests of the child, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has started using terms of “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.”

These changes are largely semantic, but they also allow for more flexibility in terms of certain parental responsibilities and the ways that parental responsibilities are divided.

Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities in Cook County

Illinois courts used to use the terms “legal custody” and “physical custody.” Legal custody referred to the parent’s right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing and long-term well-being, while physical custody referred to the amount of time that the parent spent with the child. Legal custody largely has been replaced by “parental responsibilities” and the specific term “significant decision-making responsibilities,” while physical custody has been replaced with the term “parenting time.”

Significant decision-making responsibilities might include, for example:

  • Education, such as which school the child will attend;
  • Child’s religious education and upbringing; and
  • Health, such as which doctors or dentists the child will see.

Parenting time involves “caretaking functions,” which include, for instance:

  • Providing child’s nutritional needs;
  • Getting the child to school;
  • Providing discipline; and
  • Supervising the child in chores.

What is a Cook County Parenting Plan, and Do I Need One?

When parents can agree to parental responsibilities, they can enter into what is known as a “parenting plan.” This is a written agreement that allocates significant decision-making responsibilities and/or parenting time. As long as the court determines that the parenting plan is in the best interests of the child, it can become an official legal document.

When parents are unable to agree to terms in a parenting plan, however, the court will create what is known as an “allocation judgment” in which it allocates parental responsibilities. To be clear, a parenting plan can allow parents to have more of a say in how parental responsibilities are allocated and to play a significant role in child custody matters. However, if there is not a parenting plan, then the court will decide what is in the best interests of the child.

In both scenarios—whether the parents or the court makes the decision about parental responsibilities—the “best interests of the child” standard must be used.

Contact a Cook County Child Custody Attorney

Child custody cases in Illinois can be difficult and frustrating, but an experienced Cook County child custody attorney can help. Contact Arami Law Office to get started on your case with a dedicated advocate.