In a divorce between parents, child custody is an important issue to work out. Custody refers to the role each parent will have in the child’s life in the years that follow their divorce. Although the term “custody” is used in some states and sometimes colloquially in Illinois, it was actually replaced by the term “parental responsibilities” when the state’s amended child custody law went into effect in 2016.
Despite the change in terminology, the court follows a similar procedure to determine the most appropriate parenting plan for a child following his or her parents’ divorce. It considers a set of factors to work out the arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. These factors include, but are not limited to:
Previously, the time a non-custodial parent spent with his or her child was known as “visitation.” Now, the time each parent spends with the child is known as “parenting time.” The amount of parenting time a child has in each household factors into the child’s child support order.
Parental responsibilities include more than just parenting time. They are the right to make decisions on the child’s behalf regarding his or her medical care, education, and lifestyle. This can include his or her access to certain extended family members and the child’s religious upbringing. Parents can share parental responsibilities or one parent can hold them solely. In either case, the parents may share parenting time or one parent could have the child full time.
When an established parenting plan no longer suits a child’s needs, one or both of the parents can modify it. Unless there is a serious risk of harm to the child or a proposed relocation beyond the permitted distance according to the parent’s home county, a parenting plan may only be modified if it has been in effect for at least two years. When parents agree to a modification, they can easily submit their changes to the court and start parenting according to these changes. When one parent does not agree to the other’s proposed change, the parent seeking the change must demonstrate how the proposed new plan is in the child’s best interest.
If you have children, their custody after your divorce is likely a hot-button issue for you. To learn more about establishing, enforcing, and modifying a parenting plan in Illinois, contact our team of experienced child custody lawyers at The Law Offices of George M. Sanders, P.C. today to schedule your initial consultation with us.