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Warrenville parental responsibility attorneyNobody thinks of the end of a marriage when they get married, and even though the divorce rate in the United States is declining, divorce is still common. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 29,331 divorces were granted in the state of Illinois in 2016. Divorces are stressful and emotional, and they become more so when children are involved. When children are a part of divorce, they bring issues with them that need to be resolved, such as child custody, child support, and visitation.

Parental Responsibilities Instead of Custody

The state of Illinois no longer refers to custody of children. Since a new law was introduced in 2016, what used to be known as custody is now referred to as parental responsibilities, and the amount of time children spend with each parent is known as parenting time. Parental responsibility consists of significant decision-making for children, and there are four types of decision-making:

  • Education, including choosing schools and tutors.
  • Health, including decisions pertaining to the medical, dental, and psychological well-being of the child.
  • Religion. 
  • Extracurricular activities.

Unless an agreement is submitted to the court that details the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will determine which responsibilities are allocated to each parent. The law also states that there is no requirement to allocate any responsibilities to each parent.

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Warrenville divorce attorney single parentIn most circumstances, it is in the best interests of a child’s parents to share the allocation of parental responsibility (formerly known as child custody) following divorce. This is a “two hands are better than one” philosophy, with former spouses, even after divorce, working to share resources and balance work and family responsibilities in a way that supports the child’s education, health, and well-being every bit as much as if the parents were still married and living together. 

Parental responsibility is typically shared when a divorce is as harmonious as can be expected, with parents collaborating to create a parenting plan in compliance with state law, and sometimes even when a divorce is filled with acrimony and collaboration is difficult. There are, however, some circumstances in which it is in the best interests of the child for parental responsibility to be solely allocated to one parent. 

A History of Violence, Abuse, or Neglect Is Relevant to Child Custody

With the “best interests of the child” being paramount in the allocation of parental responsibility, it is important to identify certain behaviors that are not in the best interests of the child. Among these behaviors – all factors at issue in a family court judge’s consideration of custody-related matters – are:

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DuPage County divorce lawyer for parenting time and parental responsibilityThanksgiving is only a few weeks away, and many families are currently making plans for the holidays. For recently divorced parents and their children, this season can be a stressful and even contentious time of year. The transition to living in separate households and abiding by custody and visitation arrangements can be difficult when children are used to spending holidays under the same roof. While parents and children need time to adjust to new arrangements, parents can decrease post-divorce stress and anxiety during the holiday season by staying informed about their parental responsibility rights. 

Child Custody vs. Parental Responsibility 

In educating yourself about Illinois child custody, it is important to know that, though the state has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which most states have used to define jurisdictional matters related to child custody, it uses the specific terminology of “allocation of parental responsibility” with regard to laws and processes concerning custody. Here, the thinking is that the new terminology at once resists contentiousness and promotes collaboration in arriving at a custody arrangement that is agreeable to divorced parents and children alike. 

Parental Responsibility and Parenting Time

In Illinois law, parental responsibility concerns the right to direct the upbringing of the child. Parental responsibility is about decision-making, specifically with regard to the areas of health, education, religion, and extracurricular activities. Making decisions about a child’s healthcare, where and how they will be schooled, whether or not they will attend church or participation in religious, and the types of extracurricular activities they will be allowed to engage in are all tremendously important matters – ones that bear heavily on a child’s formative years. In some cases, one parent or guardian may have sole responsibility in any or all of these areas. However, it is also possible for parents to work out an agreement in which they share responsibility for making important decisions. 

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