Child Custody

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Illinois Child Custody Lawyer

Are you thinking about filing for divorce, but have questions about how the court will handle matters involving the allocation of parenting time, rights, and responsibilities? Have you recently separated from the other parent of your child? Matters concerning child custody and visitation are among the most complicated and contentious in family law.

Illinois law strives to maintain a strong bond between a parent and their child, which fosters a healthy parent-child relationship, regardless of the marital status of the parents. To this end, Illinois law no longer uses terms such as “child custody” or “visitation.” Instead, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has replaced that language with the “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” An experienced Illinois child custody lawyer can answer your questions today.

Understanding Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

What is the difference between parental responsibilities and parenting time? Generally speaking, “parental responsibilities” describe what we used to call legal and physical custody. Specifically, the statute defines parental responsibilities as “both parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities with respect to a child.”

How about parenting time? This term takes the place of physical custody and visitation.  As the statute clarifies, parenting time “means the time during which a parent is responsible for exercising caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making responsibilities with respect to the child.”

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities in Illinois

When parents can agree to parental responsibilities and parenting time, they can develop what is known as an “allocation judgment” or “parenting agreement.” If the court decides that the parenting agreement is in the best interests of the child, then it can sign off on that agreement which then becomes a legal document. However, if the parents cannot agree, then the court will allocate parental responsibilities. The following are just some of the issues that need to be addressed in a parenting plan or allocation judgment:

  • Child’s education, including choice of schools;
  • Healthcare for the child, including matters related to medical, dental, and psychological needs; 
  • Child’s religious upbringing; and
  • Extracurricular activities of the child.

How does the court allocate parental responsibilities? It looks to a number of different factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child, including but not limited to:

  • Wishes of the child;
  • Child’s adjustment to his/her home and community;
  • Mental and physical health of all parties;
  • Parents’ ability to cooperate with one another;
  • Parents’ prior level of participation in the child’s life and upbringing;
  • Wishes of the parents;
  • Child’s needs;
  • Distance between the parents’ residences; and
  • Any history of abuse or family violence.

Ultimately, the court wants to allocate parental responsibilities in a way that retains the important parent-child relationship, while also serving to protect the child’s best interests.

Contact an Illinois Child Custody Attorney

Child custody and visitation, or the allocation of parental responsibilities, can be complicated. A dedicated child custody lawyer in Illinois can help you with your case. Contact Law Office of Demetrios N Dalmares and Associates Ltd. to discuss your options with an experienced advocate.

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