When couples end their marriage, one of the most contentious areas of the divorce process involves the allocation of parenting time and parenting responsibilities. While the goal of every divorce is to reach an amicable agreement that is in the best interests of the children, this isn’t always easily achieved.
In 2016, a new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was passed. The new statutes no longer used the terms “custody” or “visitation” when discussing parenting responsibilities. Instead, Illinois law recognized the need for parents to divide the childcare responsibilities and parenting time so that both parents were able to maintain a relationship with their children.
As such, the law recognized two separate divisions for parents as it relates to caring for their minor children: parenting responsibilities and parenting time.
However, there are differences regarding the allocation of parenting responsibilities and parenting time. Understanding those differences can help make the divorce and co-parenting process go smoother for separated couples.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
Illinois law outlines various caretaking functions of parenting minor children. Some of these functions include managing bedtime and wake up routines, caring for their personal hygiene, and attending medical appointments. However, it can also include making more serious decisions concerning the welfare of the children.
Parents need to come to an agreement regarding who is responsible for making important decisions relating to the care of their children. This is known as the allocation of parental responsibilities.
These important decisions include healthcare, religious upbringing, education, and extracurricular activities. If parents cannot come to a mutual agreement regarding the allocation of these responsibilities, the court will allocate decision-making responsibilities according to the child’s best interests.
The new Illinois law allows for the separate allocation of each of those parental responsibilities. For example, both parents may share parental responsibilities for making all extracurricular and educational decisions, while the father may make all decisions regarding their religious upbringing and the mother may make all decisions regarding healthcare.
Parenting time is simply the amount of time each week that a parent spends with their child in a caretaker capacity. This time is typically outlined in a parenting plan and often includes the amount of time each parent spends with children each week, where children will reside, and how holidays are to be spent. It may also include details about how information will be shared between parents and other important parenting issues.
It is important to know that Illinois law is gender neutral and favors neither parent. Instead, divorcing couples are expected to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the children.
If an agreement regarding parenting time cannot be reached, the courts will make a determination based on numerous factors, including which parent has been the primary caregiver, wishes of the children, where children go to school, and work schedules, among many other factors.
Divorce Is Never Easy
Divorce is never easy and parents often find themselves at odds over how to raise the children and continue parenting from two separate households. Illinois law strives to help eliminate confusions and contentions regarding childcare responsibilities and parenting time. Whenever possible, divorcing couples should work together to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement that puts the needs of the children front and center.
While the needs of the children should always come first, divorcing parents have an opportunity to arrive at creative solutions that can enhance their co-parenting relationship and eliminate future misunderstandings.
An experienced Barrington Divorce Attorney can help you through this difficult time and protect your parenting rights along the way. An amicable solution is possible with the right legal guidance. With the right legal assistance throughout the divorce process, even the most contentious couples can often reach an agreement that meets the needs of all parties.
Contact Our Barrington Divorce Attorneys
Your divorce may be the most stressful time in your life. However, with the right guidance and an experienced Barrington Divorce Attorney on your side, you may navigate these troubled waters a little easier.
To learn more about parenting rights, parenting time, and the allocation of parental responsibilities, give our law office a call immediately. Call Manassa Hartman, P.C. at (866) 390-0672 or fill out our confidential contact form for a free consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate Barrington divorce lawyers. We are proud to serve clients at both our Crystal Lake and Barrington offices. Call today!