Child custody laws in Illinois are complex, especially now that the law allocates parental responsibilities instead of awarding child custody to parents. This relatively recent change in the law was designed to provide more flexibility to families in Evanston and throughout Illinois, recognizing the importance of the parent-child relationship and the distinct ways that relationship develops in different family situations.
Do you have questions? An Evanston child custody lawyer can get started on your case today.
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the court is responsible for allocating decision-making responsibilities according to what is in the child’s best interests. Parental responsibilities include both significant decision-making responsibilities about the child’s upbringing and long-term well-being (formerly “legal custody”), as well as parenting time, or daily caretaking responsibilities for the child (formerly “physical custody,” or “visitation”).
Significant decision-making responsibilities used to be known as “legal custody,” while parenting time used to be discussed in terms of “physical custody” or “visitation.”
The changes to the law make it so that parents can share certain responsibilities based on family needs, while specific responsibilities can be the responsibility of just one parent. For example, one parent may be responsible for the child’s religious education, while both parents may share in making significant decisions about the child’s healthcare. When the court allocates parental responsibilities involving significant decision-making responsibilities, it typically considers the following major issues:
Differently, when the court allocates parenting time, it is determining which parent will provide day-to-care caretaking functions for the child during specific periods of time. When parents can agree to parental responsibilities, they can work together to create a parenting plan that outlines parental responsibilities and each of the parents’ roles in the child’s upbringing. When parents cannot agree, however, the court will determine parental responsibilities—or will “allocate parental responsibilities”—and will issue what is known as an allocation judgment.
In allocating parental responsibilities or signing off on a family’s parenting plan, courts in Illinois continue to use the best interests of the child standard. This means that the court can use many different factors listed in the IMDMA to decide what is in the best interests of the child, or it can look to other factors that are specific to a family’s situation in making that determination.
Examples of factors that can play a role in determining the child’s best interests include but are not limited to:
If you need help with your child custody case, an Evanston child custody attorney can assist you. Contact the Law Office of George M. Sanders, P.C. today.