Changes to Illinois Child Custody and Visitation

Illinois family law attorney, child custody and visitationOn January 1, 2016, significant changes will go into effect in Illinois under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Specifically, changes will be made to child custody and visitation. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these changes as 2016 begins.

Allocation of Parental Responsibility

Beginning January 1, 2016, the entire section on custody will be named the Allocation of Parental Responsibility—the terms “custody” and “visitation” will no longer be used in Illinois. Moreover, custody orders, visitation agreements, and parenting agreements will be removed from the chapter and will be replaced with allocation judgments, parenting time, and parenting plans. An allocation judgment is a judgment that allocates or directs parental responsibilities.

Parental responsibility involves parenting time and significant decision making authority, with respect to the ordinary caretaking functions of minor children. Replacing the term visitation is parenting time, which is defined as the time a parent is responsible for conducting the defined care-taking functions and decision making responsibilities that are considered non-significant. Significant decision making responsibility is now considered a distinct category, separate from parenting time, and it involves issues that are of long-term importance to a minor child.

Parenting plans will replace the previously used parenting agreements. A parenting plan is a written agreement that allocates the significant decision making responsibility and parenting time. Custody and visitation are not terms to be included in the parenting plan. Instead, a parenting plan should address care-taking functions—the interactions with a minor child or the tasks that direct and supervise interactions with and care for a minor child provided by other people. Care-taking functions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Satisfying the nutritional needs of a minor child;
  2. Determining sleep and wake-up routines;
  3. Caring for a sick or injured minor child;
  4. Playing with a minor child and enrollment in extracurricular activities;
  5. Ensuring the physical safety of a minor child;
  6. Directing the developmental needs of a minor child;
  7. Disciplining and developing behavioral control and self-restraint;
  8. Attending school;
  9. Obtaining proper medical care for a minor child; and
  10. Moral and ethical guidance.

Currently, significant decision making authority is determined by the custodial and noncustodial parents. With the changes, parenting time will be allocated without any labels and significant decision making responsibility will be determined without regard to how parenting time was allocated.

As a result of these changes, the assignment of who is responsible for the care-taking functions is much more comprehensive, and it will likely require more time to determine. However, strict time limits to develop and file a parenting plan are being implemented. All of these changes may lead to more complex and expensive litigation, but will hopefully lead to a better plan for both parents and minor children.

Family Law Attorneys

The 2016 Illinois family law changes are significant and will impact several important areas of family law. If you would like more information, or need assistance with parental responsibility during a divorce, please speak with an experienced Illinois family law attorney at MKFM Law. Our firm understands the sensitive and complex nature of divorce when minor children are involved. Call 630-665-7300 today. We look forward to hearing from you.


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