Prior to 2016, courts referred to the division of parenting time between two parties in terms of child custody awards. Over the last few years, however, the state legislature has updated the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), as a result of which, judges have been directed to refrain from using the terms child custody and visitation, but to instead focus on allocating parenting time and parenting responsibility.
Although this change has helped reduce the amount of conflict between parents, these types of determinations remain complex, so if you and your partner have decided to divorce, or you were never married and have questions about allocating parenting time, it is critical to speak with an experienced child custody attorney near you who can advise you.
Many parents who are in the middle of a divorce, or are involved in a paternity case are able to negotiate in order to come up with an agreement on how parenting time and responsibility will be divided upon separation. In these cases, the parents must put the agreement in writing and submit it to the court. These agreements will only be approved by a court if the terms of the plan are in the child’s best interests and include:
Such an agreement could require the parties to share parenting time on an equal basis, or could involve the child spending more time with one parent, but ensure that both parents have an equal say in major decision-making. Ultimately, the type of schedule that a family comes up with will depend on their specific circumstances and what would be in the child’s best interests.
Parents who are unable to reach an agreement on the division of parenting time and responsibility will have these issues decided by a family law court, in what is referred to as an allocation judgment. These proceedings usually involve assessments by court-appointed experts who evaluate the child’s parents, as well as the child, and all parties’ living situations. After hearing testimony from both parents, as well as evidence submitted by experts, the court will make a decision based on what it believes would be in the child’s best interests.
When creating a parenting time schedule, courts assess a number of factors, including:
Although each situation is unique, a common parenting time allocation involves giving each parent time with their child on alternating weekends, school vacations, and holidays, while dividing school day evenings as evenly as possible.
Parental decision-making responsibility is divided into a few different categories. For instance, significant decision-making responsibilities typically include decisions regarding the child’s religion, education, extra-curricular activities, and medical care. Caretaking functions, on the other hand, refers to the decisions that must be made when providing day-to-day care. While all of the significant decision-making responsibilities will either be shared by both parents equally, or granted exclusively to one party, responsibility for performing caretaking functions belongs to each parent when he or she has physical custody of the child.
For help with your own child custody-related questions and concerns, please contact the dedicated child custody attorneys near me at Demetrios N. Dalmares & Associates, Ltd.