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Determining Child Custody based on Parental Choices

Determining Child Custody based on Parental Choices

When parents divorce, their children’s custody is often at the forefront of the divorce. What was once known as “custody” in Illinois is split into two areas: parenting time, which is the time that the child spends with each parent, and parental responsibilities, which are the right each parent has to make decisions on the child’s behalf.

The court makes determinations about parenting time and parental responsibilities based on what it feels is in the child’s best interest. To aid in this determination, the court examines a set of factors to consider about each case. This set of factors is fairly malleable; the court can choose to focus on specific factors over others that are less applicable to certain cases. Finding that a parent engages in behaviors that do or can put the child at risk of emotional or physical injury, even when done in the name of religious tradition or health concerns, can lead the court to limit the time the child spends with that parent and limit his or her parental responsibilities.

Parental Responsibilities vs. Parenting Time

Parental responsibilities refer to the right to make “big” decisions on the child’s behalf. These include choices about the child’s education and religious practices. These responsibilities can be split between a child’s parents or given only to one parent, giving that parent the right to make all such decisions for the child.

Parenting time refers to the time the child spends in each parent’s household. One parent might have residential custody of the child, meaning that the child lives in that household most of the time and has parenting time with the other parent. The child might also spend an equal amount of time in both households.

Are a Parent’s Choices Actively Hurting the Child?

The court can determine the impact each parent’s choices make on the child through the information it gathers from interviews, home visits, and other pieces of evidence presented. A few examples of issues that can potentially hurt a child in the name of religious freedom or health practices include:

  • Refusing to vaccinate the child;
  • Relying on prayer or faith healing instead of western medicine to heal the child’s health problems;
  • Keeping the child out of school;
  • Forcing the child to engage in detrimental practices.

Work with an Experienced Rolling Meadows Family Lawyer

Determining where your child lives and how you are involved in his or her life is an important part of the divorce process. Prepare yourself to face these issues with the court, which can require you to complete a psychological evaluation or an interview with a guardian ad litem. To learn more about child custody in Illinois and your rights as a parent, set up your initial consultation with SAM LAW OFFICE LLC today to speak with an experienced family lawyer.

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