When Complex Divorce And Family Law Matters Must Be Handled Right, People Turn To Us

When Complex Divorce And Family Law Matters Simply Must Be Handled Right, People Turn To Us

Parenting Time & Parental Responsibilities: Decision-Making And Parenting Time

For parents, going through a divorce or separation brings an added level of stress and uncertainty. You need to know how to protect your parental rights — while, to the best extent possible, preserving family relationships and creating the best environment for your child to thrive.

At Taege Law Offices, our Chicago family law lawyers have vast knowledge and experience representing parents in cases involving the allocation of parental responsibilities. We understand the importance of finding cooperative, effective solutions that keep families in a good place and protect children. At the same time, our legal team is always ready to fight to protect your parental rights.

The Allocation Of Parental Responsibilities

The state of Illinois no longer officially uses the terms ‘child custody’ or ‘child visitation’ in legal proceedings. Instead, parents should expect to hear references to terms such as ‘allocation of parental responsibility,’ the ‘allocation of decision-making authority’ and ‘allocation of parenting time’.

Decision-Making Authority (Child Custody)

Decision-making authority is a parental responsibility. It can be awarded to one or both parents. Notably, decision-making authority is broad and varied. It refers to all important decisions that affect the child’s education, health, religion and extracurricular activities.

Parenting Time (Child Visitation)

Parenting time is another parental responsibility. The allocation of parenting time refers to where and when a child will spend time with each parent. There is no standard rule for parenting time. Each case is different and parenting time depends on the unique circumstances of each family.

You Need A Viable Parenting Plan

Under Illinois law, divorcing parents are tasked with trying to create a viable parenting plan that creates a positive environment for their child. This plan will address the allocation of parental responsibilities — including both decision-making authority and parenting time — in reasonable detail.

Ideally, parents will be able to work together to negotiate a mutually agreeable parenting plan that works best for the entire family. Illinois family law courts generally defer to the wishes of parents when they can agree on a viable plan together. However, if a parenting plan cannot be reached, or the proposed parenting plan is not in the child’s best interests, a family law court can step in and allocate the parental responsibilities.

Learn more: Can you lose custody for not paying child support?

Understanding The ‘Best Interests Of The Child’ Standard

Illinois operates under the ‘best interests of the child’ legal standard. If there is a dispute over the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will resolve it by determining what is best for the child. The needs and desires of parents are always secondary. If you are involved in a dispute over decision-making or parenting time, it is imperative that you seek guidance from an experienced Illinois family law attorney. Your attorney will help you prove that you can provide the very best environment for your child.

At Taege Law Offices, we represent mothers and fathers in Illinois child custody and visitation proceedings.

FAQs About Child Custody In Illinois

Can Grandparents Or Other Relatives Be Awarded Custody?

In Illinois, courts typically favor awarding custody to a child’s parents. However, in cases where the parents cannot take care of their children, a grandparent or other relative can petition the court for custody. Third-party custody cases most often happen when the parents are declared unfit due to criminal behavior or substance abuse or if the parents willingly give their child up due to extreme circumstances.
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What Happens if One Parent Moves To Another State?

If the custodial parent, or the parent who has custody most of the time, wishes to move out of state, they must first seek approval from the court or the noncustodial parent. The parent planning to move must provide written notice to the noncustodial parent. The notice must include the relocation date, how long the relocation will last and the new address. If the nonrelocating parent agrees to the move, the parent must file the notice in court, where the judge will update the parenting plan.
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How Is Child Custody Determined When Parents Are Unmarried And Separated?

When parents are unmarried and separated, the child’s mother has sole custody until the father can legally establish his paternity. Once the father proves his paternity through a DNA test or an agreement with the biological mother, he can gain visitation or custody rights.
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How Is Child Custody Determined In Illinois?

In Illinois, custody is called “allocation of parental responsibilities.” When seeking custody, it’s important to understand the rights and obligations that you will have. In most cases, the courts will grant both parents both physical and legal custody. Physical custody relates to where and with whom the child lives. If one parent has physical custody, it means that the child spends the majority of their time living with that parent. The child may still see the other parent, and even have overnight stays, but has one main residence. The parent who has legal custody has the right and obligation to make major decisions for the child regarding education, religion and health care, among other issues. When legal custody is shared, then both parents have a say in these matters. We will walk you through the evaluation, mediation and guardian ad litem processes as they relate to your case.
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Are The Child’s Wishes Taken Into Account?

Yes. Both the wishes of the parents and the wishes of the child or children are taken into account. Ultimately, the court will place the child in the environment where the best interests of the child are best met. Typically, as stated above, the courts move to ensure that both parents remain involved and active in the child’s life, unless there is a history of or ongoing abuse or neglect issues.
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After Divorce Or Separation, Who Makes Important Life Decisions On Behalf Of The Child?

If a parent has sole legal custody, then that parent will make all of the decisions for the child. Typically, however, both parents will have a say in major decisions that affect the child. There are issues that can affect who makes decisions for your child. We are here to answer your questions and guide you through this process.
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Can Custody Be Changed After A Divorce Or Separation?

Yes. If either parent has a major life change, either in their personal life or career, then a change or “modification” may be warranted. These modifications are more likely to be approved after two years has elapsed since the initial order was entered. Any modification must be shown to be in the best interest of the child. In any instance where a child’s well-being, health or safety is at stake, a modification should be undertaken. We can help you understand how to proceed should you need to seek a modification.
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Can I Relocate With My Children?

Yes. However, where you move will affect your parenting rights and obligations. If you move a few blocks away or across town, this should not be an issue. However, if you want to move out of Illinois as a parent with custody, then you must get approval from the court and most often from the noncustodial parent. The court will want to ensure that this move serves the interest of your child or children.

If both parents are in agreement about the move, then this process is much easier. Any changes to your initial agreement should be in writing and notarized. We can help you understand the steps to relocate with your child or children to ensure you are getting the appropriate permissions and following both the law and the terms of your existing agreement.
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How Does Parental Alienation Affect Custody?

Parental alienation is when one parent seeks to undermine the relationship the child has with the other parent. If one parent creates a campaign against the other parent and this is harmful or has a negative impact on the child or children, then the court can change the allocation of parental responsibilities and award the other parent sole custody.
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What Enforcement Actions Can Illinois Courts Take If Child Support Payments Are Not Made?

If someone misses child support payments in Illinois, courts have several measures they can take, including:

  • Wage garnishment: They may withhold income by ordering employers to deduct payments directly from wages.
  • Contempt orders: They can also hold the nonpaying parent in contempt of court, which might lead to fines or jail time.
  • Tax refund offsets: The state can intercept tax refunds to put toward child support.
  • License suspension: Courts have the option of suspending driver’s, professional and recreational licenses.
  • Liens: Courts might place liens on the delinquent parent’s property.
  • Credit bureau reporting: Finally, the court could report the missed payments to credit agencies, affecting credit scores.

These actions aim to ensure compliance with child support orders and the well-being of the children involved.
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What Should I Do If I Can No Longer Afford My Child Support Payments Due To Financial Hardship?

If you face financial hardship and struggle to make child support payments, you need to act promptly. You can contact the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) or the court that issued the child support order to inform them of your situation. You may file a petition for a modification of the child support order, explaining your changed circumstances. The court will review your case and may adjust your payments. Do not stop or reduce payments without court approval; this could lead to enforcement actions against you.
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Can Child Support In Illinois Continue Past The Age Of 18? If So, Under What Circumstances?

In Illinois, child support can continue past the age of 18 under certain conditions. If the child is still attending high school, support may extend until they graduate or turn 19 – whichever comes first. Support can also continue beyond 18 if the child has special needs that warrant ongoing assistance. Additionally, courts can order support for educational expenses for a child attending college or vocational school until the child turns 23 (or 25, in some circumstances). These educational expenses can include tuition, housing and books.
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What Steps Should I Take If The Other Parent Is Interfering With My Visitation Rights And I Am Considering Withholding Child Support?

If the other parent is interfering with your visitation rights, withholding child support is not a recommended course of action. Child support and visitation rights are separate issues in the eyes of the law. Withholding payments can result in legal penalties against you. Instead, document instances of visitation interference and seek legal counsel. You may need to file a petition with the court to enforce your visitation rights. The court may take steps to address the interference, ensuring that your rights are respected while maintaining your obligation to provide child support.
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Contact Our Chicago Child Custody Lawyers Today

At Taege Law Offices, our Illinois family law attorneys have extensive experience representing parents. We offer compassionate, sensitive legal guidance that is always properly tailored to fit the unique circumstances of each client.

For a free, fully confidential consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm today at 312-667-7706. Our attorneys represent clients throughout Chicagoland and all of Illinois.

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