Parental Rights Attorney in Peoria, Illinois

Parenting rights apply equally to both married and non-married couples

Parenting Time & Decision-Making Responsibility

Illinois recently underwent a major overhaul of the state’s parenting laws which eliminated the terms “custody” and “visitation” and replaced them with two main pillars of parental rights – 1) Parenting Time and 2) Parental Responsibility Allocation.

“Parenting Time” is simply the time and schedule each parent spends with his/her children. There is no longer a “custodial parent” who by default is granted a majority of the parenting time. Instead, one parent is designated as the “primary residential parent for school purposes only”. This designation establishes residency for the child’s schooling; it does NOT determine where the child spends the most time. Parenting time is decided on case-by-case basis with no set parenting plan being the same.

Illinois law requires that parents first try to resolving their parenting schedule on their own or through court appointed mediation, but if those efforts fail then the Judge will determine parenting time by looking at the best interest of the child factors as enumerated in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

These “best interests” factors are as follows:

  1. the wishes of each parent seeking parenting time;
  2. the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to parenting time;
  3. the amount of time each parent spent performing caretaking functions with respect to the child in the 24 months preceding the filing of any petition for allocation of parental responsibilities or, if the child is under 2 years of age, since the child’s birth;
  4. any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to caretaking functions with respect to the child;
  5. the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings and with any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  6. the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  7. the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  8. the child’s needs;
  9. the distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
  10. whether a restriction on parenting time is appropriate;
  11. the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  12. the willingness and ability of each parent to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs;
  13. the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
  14. the occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  15. whether one of the parents is a convicted sex offender or lives with a convicted sex offender and, if so, the exact nature of the offense and what if any treatment the offender has successfully participated in; the parties are entitled to a hearing on the issues raised in this paragraph (15);
  16. the terms of a parent’s military family-care plan that a parent must complete before deployment if a parent is a member of the united states armed forces who is being deployed; and
  17. any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant. 750 ilcs 5/602.7

Parenting Responsibility

“Parental responsibility allocation” is the decision making authority allocated to the parents. The four main categories are those decisions related the children’s: education, health care; religious upbringing and extra-curricular activities. The parties can share the decision making authority equally such that each parent has an equal say in each aspect of the child’s upbringing, or, if the parents are unable to work together in such matters, the judge will decide who is given the primary responsibility in making these decisions. as with parenting time, the courts look to a set of best interests of the child factors when determining whether the decision making responsibility should be divided between the parents or should be allocated to just one of the parents.

The factors are as follows:

  1. the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making;
  2. the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  3. the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  4. the ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making;
  5. the level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child;
  6. any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision-making with respect to the child;
  7. the wishes of the parents;
  8. the child’s needs;
  9. the distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
  10. whether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate under section 603.10;
  11. the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
  12. the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child;
  13. the occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  14. whether one of the parents is a sex offender, and if so, the exact nature of the offense and what, if any, treatment in which the parent has successfully participated; and
  15. any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant. 750 ILCS 5/602.5

Why the Rules Have Changed

Child Custody and Parenting Laws in Illinois were recently revised in an attempt to level the playing field between parents and to eliminate the stigma that one parent was a second class citizen compared to the other.

Decision making authority (formerly known as custody) refers to the parents’ ability to make decisions regarding their children’s care and well-being.

The 4 distinct decision making categories

relate to the children’s:

  • Education,
  • Medical,
  • Religion and
  • Extracurricular activities.

There are various ways that decision making authority can be divided among the parents. One way is to allocate the decision making authority to a single parent such that although both parents are involved in the decision making process, one parent can have the final say in 1 or all 4 categories. In the alternative, decision making can be shared equally such that the parents must mutually agree before a significant decision can be made in regards to these categories.

Each parenting decision is unique; however in order for there to be joint decision making the parties must show the ability to cooperate and to effectively communicate to make decisions for their child’s best interest.

In regards to parenting time with the children,

The Concept of “Visitation” No Longer Exists.

Instead, each parent is presumed to be entitled to parenting time unless on parent can show that the other presents an endangerment to his/her children. The Courts will designate one parent as the residential parent for school purposes only (meaning this is where the child will attend school);

This does not necessarily mean that this will be the parent with a majority of parenting time. Parenting time not only includes the standard weekly schedule, but also

Where the Children Will Be Spending Time with During Various Holiday and Vacation Times.

The evolving area of family law requires competent attorneys who are apprised on the recent changes and have litigated these issues in our court system.

We have the experience to guide you through this difficult process. For more information contact us for a consultation.

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