Parental Rights & Responsibilities
As of January 1, 2016, there is no longer “custody” in Illinois. Instead of legal and residential custody, the new law requires an Allocation Judgment and Parenting Plan.
The Allocation Judgment and Parenting Plan sets forth who is responsible for decision-making in each of the following areas: healthcare, education, extracurricular activities and religion. Both parents can be granted equal decision-making responsibilities in all four of these areas, or one parent can be granted all of the decision-making responsibility in all of these areas, or one parent can be given all the decision-making responsibilities in one area and other other parent can be given all the decision-making responsibilities in another area, and every combination in between.
There is also no such thing as “visitation” anymore. The time each parent spends with the child is called “parenting time.” Each parent’s parenting time is then set forth in the Allocation Judgment and Parenting Plan.
One aspect of the legal process has not changed: If the parents cannot decided between themselves how they will allocate parental rights and responsibilities, including parenting time, the judge will decide for them. Before making such a decision, however, the judge will often appoint other professionals (attorneys and/or mental health professional) to look into the matter, interview the children and the parents, and make recommendations to the court. The parents pay for these services which easily run into thousands of dollars. While this is sometimes necessary, you can probably see how it is better for your family if you and the other parent can communicate and decide what is best for your child(ren), rather than leaving those decisions up to a judge and other professionals who don’t know you or your children.
If children are involved, even grown children, you will have to still have a connection with the other parent and a need to communicate effectively and in a healthy way for the benefit of the children. This is another reason that the Collaborative Divorce process option is often so superior to a litigated divorce.