What Is Parenting Time in Illinois

What Is Parenting Time in Illinois

What Is Parenting Time in Illinois?

The Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act of 2016 changed the familiar phrasing of child custody to parenting time in Illinois. That means Illinois courts no longer use the terms “custody” or “visitation.” Instead, these matters are referred to as parenting time and parental responsibilities.

It is important to know how the changes made to old child custody and visitation laws affect cases now. To better understand how things changed, we will explore both how things were done in the past. Then, we will explain how the recent changes to the law will affect cases now and in the future.

Understanding Old Child Custody Laws

Now that we know child custody is now called parenting time in Illinois, we can review how things were done in the past. Previously, custody law in Illinois resulted in courts awarding either sole custody or joint custody. The only meaningful difference between the two dealt with who would make major decisions impacting the child’s life. With sole custody, one parent made all the decisions. Meanwhile, joint custody meant that both parents made decisions on the following kinds of issues for the child:

  • Lifestyle – These are decisions on what neighborhood the child lives in, what activities the child participates in, and other decisions on extracurriculars for the child.
  • Religion – These are choices of what faith the child will worship and whether they will regularly attend church.
  • Education – These are decisions on whether the child will attend public, private, or home school. It can also include whether the child will work with tutors or other special programs.
  • Health – These are choices about where the child will go for dental care, vision care, annual checkups, and emergency healthcare.
Current Law Allocates Parental Responsibilities

Under the law changes that now call these matters parenting time in Illinois, the courts allocate parental responsibilities, instead of custody. This change is important because it no longer automatically results in one or both parents making decisions for the child. In the absence of an agreement between the parties, the court will rule on which parent is responsible for making decisions on each of the categories mentioned above. The court uses the circumstances and facts of the case to decide on which parent will make decisions.

Law Changes Now Focus on the Best Interests of the Child

An important difference in the old and new law is that the courts now place more of an emphasis on ruling in the best interests of the child. This is the overriding factor in divorce, adoption, guardianship, and juvenile law cases. If both parents come to an agreement, they can enter a written Joint Parenting Plan. However, a judge will examine the facts of the case and make a ruling using the best interest standard in cases where parents cannot make joint parenting agreements. Here are the major factors that a judge weighs to use the best interest standard:

  • The child’s wishes
  • Opinions from the parents on who provides the best primary household and their wishes for parent responsibilities
  • The past relationship and interactions the child has with each parent
  • How the child will be able to adjust to their home, school, and lifestyle changes
  • The physical and mental health of the child and the parents
  • Any history of violence or abuse of the child or between the parent and another member of the household
  • Ability and willingness of each parent to encourage the child to maintain a close relationship with the other parent
  • Whether either parent is a registered sex offender or predator
  • If a parent is a member of the military and will be deployed, that parent must complete a military family care plan before deployment
Understanding Old Visitation Law

Under the old legal standards, visitation time referred to the schedule for when a non-custodial parent got to spend time with the child. So, the custodial parent was granted primary possession of the child and residential custody. Meanwhile, the non-custodial parent was granted reasonable visitation time. The reasonable visitation time schedule often resulted in a non-custodial parent getting custody on alternating weekends, a few evenings each week, a few non-consecutive weeks each summer, and alternating special days such as the child’s birthday.

How the Law Changed with Parenting Time

Now that the law refers to it as parenting time in Illinois, there is a key change to know and understand. The most meaningful practical change has to do with the terminology used in divorce and family law cases. This was done in the hopes of eliminating confrontational notions like “custody battles” and the idea that there were “winners” and “losers” in the case. The Illinois legislature decided that the terminology changes to “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” were more appropriate in helping parents resolve issues relating to the care of their child. The new law tries to focus more on the child’s best interests, rather than phrases that made the case sound like a competition between the parents.

What Is Parenting Time in Illinois
Have More Questions about Parenting Time in Illinois?

The Brave Law Center, P.C. can provide you with experienced family law lawyers who can explain the ins and outs of parenting time in Illinois. Our attorneys have helped countless individuals with parenting time cases in Central Illinois, including Washington IL, Morton IL, Pekin IL, East Peoria IL, Bloomington IL, Peoria IL, Canton IL, and Lewistown IL. We can also provide legal representation and counsel on divorce, adoption, guardianship, child support, and spousal support cases. To make a reservation to speak with our lawyer, call 309-685-7900 to reach our office in Peoria IL. For a reservation in Fulton County IL, call 309-547-3516 to reach our office in Lewistown IL.

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Criminal, Divorce, Family Law Attorney in Peoria IL


Criminal, Divorce, Family Law Attorney in Peoria IL