Custody & Visitation

Finding solutions in the best interest of your child

Custody and Visitation

While the terms custody and visitation are no longer officially used in Illinois, they are still frequently used. Instead, the term for custody is now known as allocation of parental responsibility and visitation is known as parenting time.  This change came about in January 2016. There is no longer any “joint” or “sole” custody.  Instead, there are basically four areas of decision making that are allocated between the parents. These areas are education, medical care, religion and extracurricular activities. The parents can share decision making on all four areas, decide that a parent will have sole decision-making authority on one or more of the areas or can split the sole decision making on the areas between them.

In the alternative, if the parents cannot reach an agreement, the Court may have to make that decision for them. There are a number of steps that must be taken before that occurs, including mediation, the appointment of an attorney for your child or children and the possible appointment of a mental health professional to conduct a “best interests” evaluation for your children.

There are a number of factors that are considered when determining the best interests of your children, including, but not limited to the ability of the parents to make decisions together, the degree to which each parent has participated in the areas of decision making in the past, the child’s adjustment to home, school and community, and the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate a close relationship between the other parent and the child or children. There are fifteen factors in total.

Allocation of Parenting Time

Allocation of parenting time (i.e. visitation) is also based on a total of seventeen factors, some of which are the amount of time each parent performed care-taking responsibilities over the last two years, the distance between the parties residences, the willingness and ability of each parent to put the needs of the child ahead of his or her needs, and the interaction between the child with his or her parents, siblings, and any other person who may have a significant impact on the child’s best interests. There is no “one size fits all” schedule and there is no automatic presumption in Illinois that each parent will have 50% of the time with the child or children. This is also something that can be resolved by the parents, and if not, the same steps for resolving the decision making areas are followed, i.e. mediation, appointment of an attorney for the child, a mental health professional and possibly a trial.

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