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Understanding the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

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parental responsibilities, child custody, Joliet Family LawyersBeginning in less than a month, the approach to assigning parenting responsibilities to divorced, separated, or unmarried parents will be dramatically changed in the state of Illinois. Thanks to a new law signed this past summer, the long-standing concepts of sole and joint legal custody are being replaced by a more cooperative system that, hopefully, will keep parents more focused on the needs of their child, and less on “winning” or “losing” a custody dispute.

The Power of Language

One of the most striking changes that will take effect on January 1, 2016, is the virtual elimination of the word “custody” from the law. While it may seem relatively minor, the amendment represents much more than just semantics. It actually signals a shift in the law's focus from custody, which tends to be associated with something that can won by, lost by, given to, or taken away from a parent, to the idea of parental responsibility, which is more about what the child needs and less about the parents themselves.

Primary Considerations

Under the new law, the allocation of parental responsibilities will have two major components: significant decision-making responsibilities and caretaking functions. While there are certainly other considerations to be made, the two primary concerns will tend to address most of the child's needs. During the process, parents, despite their differences, will be expected to develop a parenting plan that outlines each party's intended roles, rights, and accountability. If the parents cannot agree, the court will make allocations as it sees fit.

Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities

The responsibilities for making significant decisions about the child's life is the most closely related to previous concepts of legal custody. The parents—or the court—must determine how decisions will be made regarding issues of education, mental, physical, and dental health care, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Ideally, a parenting agreement or plan between the parents would contain provisions for how such determinations will be made and create an avenue for compromise.

Caretaking Functions

According to the law, caretaking functions refer to providing for the child's day-to-day needs and non-significant decision making. Caretaking functions are the responsibility of any parent with parenting time—formerly known as visitation—and include ensuring the child attends school, has his or her nutritional and safety needs met, providing discipline and instruction, supervising the completion of homework, and other normal activities of daily living. The parenting plan may also contain more detailed terms regarding the caretaking functions of a particular child, but attending to child's needs should not be overly difficult for most committed parents.

An Attorney Can Help

If you have questions about the changing guidelines and how they may affect your child's current situation, contact an experienced family law attorney in Joliet. With our knowledge of the law and the legal system, we are equipped to assist you no matter your concerns may be. Call the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., for a confidential consultation today.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=8300000&SeqEnd=10000000

http://www.news-gazette.com/living/2015-11-29/john-roska-divorce-law-changing-illinois.html

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