Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

When couples who have children split up, parenting time and decision-making for the children often become the focal points of the break-up. We believe that the needs of the parties' children are of paramount importance. At Kollias & Giese, P.C., we are dedicated to protecting both the emotional and the financial well-being of our clients and their children.

Illinois Law recognizes two main divisions for parents as it relates to their children: parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly custody). Illinois law used to look at “custody” as the parent with whom the child primarily resided, and the parent with less than a majority of parenting time would be granted “visitation.” However, all of that has changed with the passage of the new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. As of January 1, 2016, the statute no longer uses the terms “custody” and “visitation.” Instead, it now refers to allocation of parental responsibility (i.e., decision-making for the children) and allocation of parenting time.

There is no longer a distinction between sole or joint legal custody, as was the case before 2016. The law now refers to allocation of parental responsibilities, which is a determination of who makes the important decisions concerning the welfare of the child. Those important decisions include healthcare, religious upbringing, education, and extracurricular activities. The new law allows for specific delineation of decision-making for each area. For example, an allocation judgment could provide that a child’s mother makes all decisions for a child’s religious upbringing, while the father make all decisions about healthcare, and both parents will make decisions regarding education jointly. The court could also divide responsibilities in other ways, such as giving the mother decision-making for activities in even-numbered years and the father decision-making for activities in odd-numbered years.

Illinois law encourages the "maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents regarding the physical, mental, moral, and emotional wellbeing of their child." However, if the parents appear unable to agree on decisions about the major aspects of a child's upbringing, the court is must decide how to allocate each of the particular responsibilities among the parents.

Many intact families are able to cooperate and agree on a parental responsibilities and parenting time. However, sometimes divorcing parents may have conflicting values in regard to child rearing. In those cases, the judge imposes a plan, based on a determination of the best interests of the child. In determining what is in a child's best interest, a judge must consider a variety of factors, including (but not limited to) the wishes of both parents regarding “custody”; the relationship between the child and the parents, siblings, and other significant people in the child's life; the child's connection to home, school, and community; the mental and physical health of all the parties involved; and any evidence of violence or abuse on the part of either parent. The child’s wishes are also considered, but only given substantial weight if the child is of a certain age and maturity level.

When parents can reach an agreement regarding allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time (formerly custody), the resulting plan is more likely to accurately reflect the personalities, needs, and histories of the family members, and is more likely to promote the best interests of the children. However, in the event that an agreement cannot be reached, the court may appoint an evaluator, a guardian ad litem for the children, or both in an effort to determine what the best interests of the children are. At Kollias & Giese, P.C., we have vast experience in negotiating diverse types of possible custodial / parental allocation arrangements to help our clients design a plan best suited to their family's needs, as well as in litigating cases where no custodial / parental allocation agreement can be reached. Additionally, attorneys Daniel J. Kollias, Lisa M. Giese, Jane E. Nagle, and Lindsay M. Jurgensen are certified guardians ad litem for cases in DuPage County. In January, 2013, Daniel J. Kollias gave a presentation to the DCBA Child Advocacy Committee on the issue of child custody evaluation reports. Lisa M. Giese has served on the Guardian ad Litem Committee of the 18th Judicial Circuit for the last six years, presenting twice at the training seminar.

The decision regarding custody / allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time also affects the issue of child support. When a parent has a majority of parenting time with a child, the other parent is typically obligated to help pay part of the childrearing expenses. In Illinois, the amount of child support is determined by a percentage established by the state. Some departures from the formula are possible, however, only in limited circumstances. Other support related issues include division of medical insurance and uncovered medical costs, daycare, and extra-curricular activity expenses for the child. Our firm also advises clients in drafting divorce agreements that address the payment of the children's future college expenses.

An experienced family law attorney can serve as an important source of information about the requirements of the law, about likely outcomes in court, as well as about parenting plans and child support plans that have proven successful in past cases. Even more importantly, an experienced attorney can evaluate, and, if necessary, present to the court the unique factors present in each case. No two divorces are the same, so if you would like more information about parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities and child support issues in the context of your own particular circumstances, please contact Kollias & Giese, P.C. for a free 30-minute consultation.

For a free 30-minute initial consultation, please call (630) 407-1200, or complete the online intake form.