Parenting: Decision-making and Parenting Time

Alert, alert: Stop saying "custody"; Alert, alert: Don't call it "visitation"

As you may know, Illinois domestic relations courts and attorneys (should) no longer refer to "custody." Effective January 2016, new law was enacted, and the new term for parental decision-making ability is "allocation of parental rights." Further, there's no such thing as "visitation" with a child, but instead we use "parenting time." 

Many divorcing couples or co-parents are able to come to a parenting plan for what was formerly called custody (allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time) that is in the best interests of the children- this is the legal standard. 

When parents disagree on who will have significant decision-making abilities, the case is considered contested and it can be litigious and expensive. Our office handles cases involving parental responsibility and parenting time (formerly called custody and visitation) in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. 

The decision-making abilities surround the following areas for the child: 

  • Education;

  • Health;

  • Religion;

  • Extracurricular activities.

This means that one or both parents can be granted decision-making ability regarding any or all of the four factors listed above. Significant decision making responsibilities can be agreed upon between the parties or allocated by the court.  They can be made to either one or to both parents.  An allocation to both parents is closest to what Illinois divorce lawyers have called “joint legal custody” although that term no longer appears in 2016 Illinois law. 

When determining allocation of parental responsibilities, the law is gender netural. This means that there is no "default" parent- mom or dad. What matters to the judge- to the court- is what is in the best interest of the child.

What does best interest of this child mean? Well, put simply: 

In the context of child custody cases, focusing on the child's "best interests" means that all custody and visitation discussions and decisions are made with the ultimate goal of fostering and encouraging the child's happiness, security, mental health, and emotional development into young adulthood.

 If you have questions about custody and visitation - which we now call allocation of parental responsibilities and significant decision making, and parenting time, contact Kate. There's no fee to talk.