Nearly everyone in Inverness has friends or family members who have gone through child custody cases. Even when parents can come to an agreement and can work together for the sake of the children, child custody matters can still be extremely emotional. If you are going through a divorce and have children with your spouse, it is important to understand how Illinois law will affect your child custody case.
First and foremost, you need to know that the language surrounding child custody in our state has changed. Since January 1, 2016, child custody and visitation no longer are terms in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Instead of awarding child custody or visitation, the court now allocates significant parental responsibilities and parenting time. As such, any decisions concerning child custody now are discussed in terms of parental responsibilities, while decisions about visitation are discussed in terms of parenting time. The court allocates parental responsibilities in what the statute describes as an “allocation judgment” unless the parents collaboratively develop a “parenting plan.”
Parental responsibilities are described under the IMDMA as “significant decision-making responsibilities.” Before the law changed, we used to think of parental responsibilities as joint and sole custody which is the right to make the important decisions about the child’s upbringing. Examples of significant decisions concerning the child’s upbringing include but are not limited to:
When the court allocates parental responsibilities, how does it make its decisions? Illinois law has not changed in relation to the goal of assigning child custody or allocating parental responsibilities: the state still requires judges to base decisions upon what is in the best interests of the child.
In determining what is in the best interests of the child, the court may look to many different factors, including but not limited to:
If the parents are able to come to an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities, and the court determines that the agreement is indeed in the best interests of the child, then the parents can play a major role in shaping what the parenting plan will look like.
We know that families in Inverness who are going through a divorce have many questions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and how the changes to Illinois law will impact the parent-child relationship. At SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC, we are committed to assisting members of the community at every stage of the divorce process, including what was known previously as child custody and visitation. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Inverness family law attorney at our firm. Contact SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC today to discuss your case.