The 2016 Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act replaced the terms “child custody” and “visitation” with the concepts of “parenting time” and “parenting responsibility”. The reason for this change was to try to reduce disputes between divorcing parents over who would be the “custodial parent”. The newly adopted terms, parenting time and responsibility, were considered appropriate as they are more general and comprehensive.
In most cases, divorcing parents usually agree on allocating parenting time and responsibility. All the arrangements are put into writing, and they form the basis of a parenting plan. Read on for more information about parenting plans in Illinois.
What happens when parents cannot agree on parenting time and responsibility?
If the divorcing parties disagree on allocating parenting time and responsibility, the court will intervene to help solve the matter. The court’s judgment will be based on the best interest of the child. Other factors that the court might consider include the socio-economic status of each parent, the parents’ work schedules, the wishes of each parent and the geographical location of each parent.
The court will try its best to balance parenting time as this increases the child’s sense of security and self-worth. Typically, the court will try to allocate equal days that each parent spends with the child, including weekends, holidays and breaks from school.
What are the primary responsibilities of a parent during parenting time?
Some of the duties of each parent during their parenting time include:
- Feeding the child
- Meeting the medical needs of the child
- Giving moral guidance
- Ensuring that the child is safe
- Providing transportation for the child
- Taking the child to school or scheduled extracurricular activities
- Supervising homework
Above all else, both parents must ensure that their child is safe and being provided for.
Modifications of parenting time and responsibility in Illinois
There are certain substantial changes in circumstances that may force a parent to ask the court to modify their parenting time and responsibility agreement. The most common reasons for modification of the parenting plan include:
- One parent’s need to relocate
- Parental alienation
- The needs of the child
- Issues with drugs and alcohol
- Failure of the other parent to co-parent
Illinois laws allow for modification of parenting time and responsibility if the amendment is in the child’s best interest. The party requesting the modifications must prove that there have been significant changes in circumstances — if there are not substantial enough changes, the court may reject the request.