Child custody proceedings in Barrington, Illinois can be extremely complicated, and they can also be contentious when the parents have difficulty coming to an agreement. When you are in the middle of a custody dispute, it is important to have a dedicated Barrington family law attorney on your side. At SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC, we provide personalized representation to each of our clients, and we are dedicated to advocating for your rights and needs.
While we understand how difficult a child custody case can be, we have years of experience assisting clients throughout the Northwestern Suburbs. We are here to answer your questions today.
What do you need to know about child custody in Illinois? First and most importantly, under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act some changes to the law that took effect on January 1, 2016 changed the language used to discuss child custody and visitation. Rather than using these terms that many Illinois residents had become familiar with, lawmakers in our state wanted to develop new language that emphasized the importance of the parent-child relationship, and highlighted the flexibility of custody and visitation situations. As such, the changes to the law resulted in “child custody” becoming known as “parenting responsibilities,” and “visitation” becoming “parenting time.”
Such changes to the law did not come with substantial changes in the practice of awarding child custody and visitation. The law does, now, however, provide for more leeway in a judge’s ability to decide the parameters for parents making significant child-rearing decisions, as well as the judge’s ability to decide who will provide certain caretaking functions for the child.
The process of determining parental responsibilities and parenting time need not be an adversarial one. To be sure, a judge’s orders regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time will go into what the statute describes as an “allocation judgment” except in situations where the parents collaboratively develop a “parenting plan.” What is this document? In brief, the statute defines it as a “written agreement that allocates significant decision-making responsibilities, parenting time, or both.”
If the parents can come to an agreement about what the parenting plan should look like, and the judge determines that the parties’ wishes are in the best interests of the child, then the parents can play a very substantial role in developing how they will work together to raise the child. If, however, the parents cannot come to an agreement, the judge might take that into consideration when determining the likelihood of the parents working together to make significant decisions about the child’s life activities and upbringing.
The changes to Illinois’s family law surrounding child custody and visitation are designed to meet the needs of modern Barrington families, and to ensure that children develop close relationships with both parents. The lawmakers wanted to make certain that children have both parents in their lives inasmuch as possible, and that can mean dividing certain parental responsibilities while still allowing both parents to make important decisions concerning childrearing.