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Kevin O'Flaherty

For the first time since 1972, major revisions to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”) came into effect in 2016. One of the most significant of these revisions was in terms of how the Courts view child custody of minor children. A parent no longer has “custody” over a child, they now exert “parenting time” and “decision making authority” over the child.

‍In evaluating “parenting time” the Court is simply trying to determine how best to allocate the amount of time the children are with each respective parent. There is no set parenting schedule the Courts use to determine this (a parenting schedule may be most appropriate for one family may not be appropriate for the next family). The Courts take into consideration several factors in deciding how to arrive at the most appropriate schedule for each specific family. Some of the factors the Courts consider are:

  • How far apart do the parents live from one another?
  • What school will the children be attending?
  • How long have they attended this school?
  • What is each parent’s respective work schedule?
  • Are the parties likely to require daycare or after school care for the children?
  • What extracurricular activities are the children involved in?

“Decision making authority” is much simpler to ascertain. It is based on four (4) major aspects of the child’s life that the parents must come to some agreement on. The four (4) decisions are comprised of:

  • Extracurricular activities;
  • Religion;
  • Education; and
  • Medical care

As a general rule, it is presumed both parents are equally capable of making decisions and shall decide issues that arise under one of these four (4) major areas together. It is most common for parents to evenly share responsibility for determining these decisions, however that is largely dependent on how well the parents communicate and get along. If one parent feels they are significantly more capable of making decisions than the other parent, they can petition the Court for greater decision making authority. However, the Court is unlikely to rule on this without having a hearing and affording both sides an opportunity to present their arguments.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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