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How Do Caretaking Functions Relate to Parental Responsibilities?

Anyone in Illinois who is going through a divorce or anticipates filing for divorce will need to understand how child custody works if they have minor children from their marriage. As you may know, Illinois does not award child custody to one or both parents. Rather, Illinois courts allocate parental responsibilities according to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), which includes both significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. When parents are able to reach an agreement about how they will share parental responsibilities, they can create a parenting plan in which they allocate parental responsibilities, as long as their allocation of parental responsibilities is in the best interests of the child.

If you have started looking into the allocation of parental responsibilities under the IMDMA, you likely know that significant decision-making responsibilities are similar to what we used to call legal custody, while parenting time is similar to what we used to call physical custody and visitation. Where, then, does the term “caretaking functions” come into play, and how are caretaking functions part of parental responsibilities?

Caretaking Functions Occur During Parenting Time 

In a child custody case in Illinois, the IMDMA defines caretaking functions as interacting with a child, managing that care by others, or making money to pay for that care. Caretaking functions are tasks that parents must do while they have parenting time.

The IMDMA outlines a number of tasks that are included as part of a parent’s caretaking functions, yet makes clear that the list is not complete. As such, caretaking functions certainly can include more tasks than those included in the IMDMA list. Some examples from the IMDMA of caretaking functions include but are not limited to:

  • Satisfying the child’s nutritional needs;
  • Managing the child’s bedtime and wake-up routines;
  • Providing care for the child if the child is sick or injured;
  • Attending to the child’s personal hygiene needs, such as washing or grooming or dressing;
  • Taking the child to scheduled extracurricular activities;
  • Protecting the child’s physical safety;
  • Directing the child’s acquisition of motor and language skills;
  • Helping the child with toilet training;
  • Directing the child’s maturity and acquisition of self-confidence;
  • Disciplining the child;
  • Instructing the child’s manners;
  • Supervising the child’s chores;
  • Ensuring the child attends school;
  • Assisting the child in developing relationships with family and acquaintances;
  • Ensuring the child attends medical appointments; and
  • Providing moral and ethical guidance for the child.

When a court allocates parenting time, it assumes that the parent exercising parenting time will be responsible for caretaking functions for the child during that time. Of course, caretaking functions can vary depending upon a specific child’s age and needs.

Contact a Chicago Family Lawyer

If you have questions about the allocation of parental responsibilities or need assistance with your child custody case, one of our experienced Chicago child custody lawyers can assist you. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm for more information. Contact the Arami Law Office today.

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