February 01, 2016
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act underwent a few changes effective at the start of the new year. Changes to the law concerning child custody and visitation, codified as 750 ILCS 5/600 et seq., provide clarification and modification to the existing law. In particular, the changes replaced the idea of “child custody” and “visitation” with a more comprehensive and realistic idea of “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.”
Family law practitioners will continue to use parenting plans, formerly known as parenting agreements under 750 ILCS 602.10, as the primary means for setting forth each parent’s responsibilities and a schedule for parenting time.
The parenting plan will address major care taking functions and which parent is to be responsible for such care taking functions. The new law defined these care taking functions and included care taking functions such as directing the child’s development, instruction in manners, toilet training, and helping the child to develop and maintain personal relationships. The parenting plan requirements set forth by the new law create new issues that divorcing or separating parents may dispute.
The level of detail associated with a parenting plan has the potential to lengthen the time spent litigating because a wealth of new issues to disagree over may exist. However, the allocation of parenting responsibilities allows parents to better control how the parents raise their child together, yet separately. Parents may choose which parent controls various aspects of their child’s life, whereas before the court vested the custodial parent with most decision-making authority.
For example, under the new provisions, the divorced couple may appoint one parent in charge of all decisions concerning a child’s religious upbringing and education while the divorced couple may appoint the other parent in charge of all decisions relating to the child’s health. Additionally, parents will have the ability to assign these decision-making responsibilities to themselves in their detailed parenting plan. The allocation of these responsibilities allows for more equality in the distribution of decision-making responsibilities between divorced parents.
Pursuant to the new law, child support obligations will follow a similar format to the old law. The parent with less parenting time will likely have a larger child support obligation than the parent with more parenting time.
Whether the changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act will positively impact the issues related to custody and visitation remains unclear. If you have concerns about how these new provisions will impact you and your family, the divorce and family law professionals at the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group can help you in this transition. Please give us a call at (312) 445-8830 to begin working with our firm.