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Tuesday 24, Mar, 2020

What to Expect When a Parent is Not Allocated Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities

In a Chicago divorce involving minor children from the marriage, parental responsibilities will be allocated through a parenting plan developed by both parents or through an allocation judgment issued by the court. In either scenario, the way in which parental responsibilities are allocated must be in the child’s best interests. As you may know, parental responsibilities include both significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. Before child custody matters were revised in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), parents could be awarded a combination of legal custody (largely what has become significant decision-making responsibilities) and physical custody (what we now think of as parenting time).

Under the old child custody system, it was not uncommon for one parent to have sole legal custody and for the parents to share physical custody in some capacity. However, now that the law has changed, the IMDMA specifically addresses parenting time by parents who are not allocated significant decision-making responsibilities. We want to go over that section of the statute and to explain situations in which parenting time can be restricted. 

Parents are Entitled to Reasonable Parenting Time

The court looks at a number of different factors in determining how and whether to allocate significant decision-making responsibilities. It is important to understand that, just because a court does not allocate any significant decision-making responsibilities to one of the parents does not mean that the parent is not still entitled to parenting time. In fact, the opposite is usually true.

According to the statute, any legal parent who is not the one who makes major decisions about the child’s upbringing has the right to a reasonable amount of parenting time with the child. The exception is if the court determines that allowing that parenting time would be dangerous for the child in any way. In other words, there is generally a presumption for parents to share the parental responsibility of parenting time unless there is a reason to restrict parenting time.

Reasons to Restrict Parenting Time, or to Modify an Allocation Judgment Concerning Parenting Time

As we mentioned above, courts in Illinois generally presume that both parents are entitled to parenting time unless there is a reason to restrict or eliminate parenting time. This is true even if one parent is not allocated any significant decision-making responsibilities. 

The language we cited above is the same language the IMDMA uses in Section 603.10 to explain reasons for a restriction of parenting time. Under Section 603.10, a court will only restrict parenting time if it finds a parent is engaging in conduct that puts the child in danger.

Talk to a Chicago Child Custody Lawyer

 If you need help asserting your rights as a parent, or if you are concerned about your child’s well-being and have questions about modifying an existing allocation judgment that only includes parenting time for the other parent, a Chicago child custody attorney at our firm can help. Contact the Arami Law Office today to learn more about our services.

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