As of January of 2016, Illinois law has shifted from “custody” to the “allocation of parental responsibilities”. The basic premise remains the same: the court is making determinations regarding decision-making power and parenting time. However, the change in language highlights an important idea underlying child custody and visitation law: time spent with the child is not a right belonging to the parent, but for the benefit of the child.
The standard for determining both decision-making authority and parenting time is the best interests of the child. Although the law specifically states that decision-making power may be awarded solely to one parent, parenting time is generally not restricted unless the court finds that spending time with one parent would seriously endanger the child.
Since the standard for both decision-making power and parenting time is the same—the best interests of the child—there is significant overlap in the factors the court is to consider in making each determination. Some of the key factors affecting both decisions include:
In Illinois, parents are required to complete a court-approved parent education class before an order allocating parental responsibilities is entered. Participation is required even when you and the child’s other parent have reached an agreement regarding custody and visitation.
Whenever possible, we encourage you to work with your children’s other parent to do what’s best for your children. If you are able to reach an agreement that you’re both comfortable with, it will generally help to ease tensions as you move forward as separate parents both invested in the welfare of your children.
However, if it is not possible to reach an amicable arrangement regarding custody and visitation, then we are prepared to fight for you. Whether you’re negotiating a joint parenting plan or presenting your case to the judge in hopes of obtaining sole decision-making power and more substantial parenting time, we’ll be there to advocate for you.
We know that the welfare of your children is one of your highest priorities, and that working toward establishing custody and visitation can be very stressful—especially if you don’t know what to expect. Whether you’re filing for divorce, establishing paternity or find yourself involved in one of the less common types of custody proceedings, our attorneys will guide you through the process, help you make informed decisions and, when necessary, fight for you in the courtroom.
You don’t have to face this alone. Contact the experienced attorneys at Callahan & Hockemeyer, P.C. for help with child custody and child visitation issues.