At SAM LAW OFFICE, LLC, we know that all divorces in Palatine, IL are difficult and emotional, regardless of the circumstances. However, divorce often becomes more emotionally charged with there are children involved, and the parties cannot come to an agreement about child custody. While any court orders connected to child custody can be modified if necessary, it is extremely important to work with an experienced Palatine child custody attorney from the very beginning. Our dedicated advocates will ensure that your voice is heard, and that the needs of your children are put first.
As of January 1, 2016, the language that Illinois courts use to discuss child custody matters has changed. You should speak with a Palatine family law attorney as soon as possible to learn more about how amendments to Illinois family law could impact your case.
Since the beginning of last year, Illinois courts no longer make decisions about child custody and visitation. Instead, the language of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/) was amended so that child custody is now discussed as “parental responsibilities,” and visitation is now discussed as “parenting time.”
What impact do these changes have on child custody cases? In the most immediate terms, these changes to the law were not intended to significantly impact the way that parents care for their children or make important decisions about child-rearing. Instead, the shifts in the legal language were intended to allow parents to participate as fully in their children’s lives as possible, and even to help develop a “parenting agreement” that outlines both parental responsibilities and parenting time if they are able to come to an agreement.
Parental responsibilities, like child custody under the old statute, is a term that refers to the parents’ responsibilities in making significant decisions about their children’s upbringing, such as where their children will be educated, how and where their children will receive healthcare, and what the children’s religious upbringing will involve, the extracurricular activities the children will participate. In other words, parental responsibilities are very similar to joint and sole custody under the old statute—the parents’ involvement in making important decisions about how their children will be raised.
Just as a judge could award sole or joint legal custody under the old statute, the judge can make
certain decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities if the parents cannot come to an agreement that is in the child’s best interests. Yet under the revised statute, the judge does not simply have to indicate that one parent will make significant decisions about the child’s upbringing, or that the parents will share these responsibilities. Rather, one parent can be tasked with making significant decisions about a child’s education, while the other parent, for instance, can be tasked with making significant decisions about the child’s healthcare and medical treatment.