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The child custody lawyers at Arami Law regularly assist families with many different types of issues related to child custody in Illinois, from parenting time to modifying child custody. The following are frequently asked questions that clients often inquire about, along with our answers from our child custody lawyers that can help you plan for your parental responsibilities case.
What Is the Difference Between Child Custody and Parental Responsibilities?
In short, “child custody” is the term that the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/) used to use, but that term has been replaced with “parental responsibilities.” Now, rather than awarding child custody to one or both parents, the court instead allocates parental responsibilities. In addition, rather than distinguishing between legal and physical custody, those terms also have been replaced with “significant decision-making responsibilities” and “parenting time
How Does the Court Allocate Parental Responsibilities?
Under the IMDMA, the court ultimately allocates parental responsibilities—which include both significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time—according to what is in the best interests of the child. In determining what is in the best interests of the child, the court considers a wide variety of factors, including, for example:
- Wishes of the child, if the child is old enough to reasonably voice his or her wishes;
- Mental and physical health of all parties;
- Ability of parents to cooperate with one another;
- Level of each parent’s participation in making significant decisions about the child’s upbringing in the past;
- Prior agreement or conduct between the parents related to significant decision-making responsibilities and/or parenting time;
- Wishes of the parents;
- Child’s needs; and
- Willingness of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.
What are Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities?
Significant decision-making responsibilities are defined under the IMDMA as the responsibility to make important decisions for the child that will impact the child’s life now and in the future. Examples include the child’s education, health care, and religious upbringing.
What Does Parenting Time Include?
Parenting time includes, according to the IMDMA, the time when a parent is responsible for the child, takes care of the child, and makes the smaller day-to-day decisions that impact the child.
Can Parents Have a Say in the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities?
In short, the answer to this question is yes. Parental responsibilities are allocated either through allocation judgment issued by the court or through a “parenting plan,” which parents can work together to develop. A parenting plan still must be approved by the court and must be based on what is in the child’s best interests, but it gives parents more flexibility and a greater role in deciding how parental responsibilities will be shared. When parents cannot come to an agreement on a parenting plan about allocating parental responsibilities, that is when the court will make the decision and will issue an allocation judgment.
A parenting plan can allocate significant decision-making responsibilities, parenting time, or both. In situations where the parents can agree either to the allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities or parenting time but not both, the court can determine how the other will be allocated and can issue an allocation judgment.
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