IL custody lawyerIf you are considering divorce in DuPage County and have minor children from your marriage, or if you are a family caregiver to minor children, we know that you likely have questions about child custody. The child custody process, now known as the allocation of parental responsibilities under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), can be extremely complicated. We routinely assist parents in the DuPage County Muslim community who have concerns or inquiries about how courts make child custody decisions when courts allocate parental responsibilities, and how the proceedings even begin.

While a divorce can be an event that initiates a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities (meaning that the court will need to allocate parental responsibilities, including significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time based on what is in the best interests of the child), there are other ways in which this process can get initiated. The dedicated DuPage County child custody lawyers at our firm want to provide you with more information.

How Courts Begin the Process of Allocating Parental Responsibilities

Many people assume that child custody proceedings, or the process in which the court allocates parental responsibilities, can only be initiated in a divorce case. While divorce is one of the ways to get this process started, the IMDMA also provides for numerous others. The following are situations and parties that can initiate the process:

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IL custody lawyerIf you are considering divorce in DuPage County and you have minor children from your marriage, you will need to learn more about child custody laws in Illinois. For most members of the Muslim community in DuPage County, the months before and during your divorce will be the first time that you learn about child custody or the allocation of parental responsibilities. To help prepare you for your child custody case, our DuPage County child custody attorneys have a list of important child custody facts that you will likely want to consider as you move forward with your divorce.

1. Illinois Law Now Discusses Child Custody in Terms of “Parental Responsibilities”

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), you will no longer find any reference to child custody awards, or to physical custody and legal custody. Instead, Illinois law now discusses child custody in terms of “parental responsibilities.” Rather than awarding child custody in sole or joint terms to parents, courts now allocate parental responsibilities, with flexibility for different types of family situations.

2. Parental Responsibilities Include Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Parental responsibilities now include significant decision-making responsibilities (similar to legal custody) and parenting time (similar to physical custody and visitation). Parents can share these responsibilities in a variety of ways based on what is in the best interests of the child.

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IL divorce lawyerMany spouses who make the decision to get divorced have minor children from the marriage. When there are minor children from the marriage, parental responsibilities will need to be allocated. There are essentially two different ways of allocating parental responsibilities under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA): either through a parenting plan developed by the parents or through the court’s allocation judgment. In both scenarios, the wishes of the child, or the child’s preference, can be taken into account but typically will not be the sole deciding factor in how parental responsibilities are allocated. Keep in mind that parental responsibilities include both significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. We will say more about how a child’s preference can come into play for both types of parental responsibilities.

Allocating Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities and Considering the Child’s Preference

Under the IMDMA, significant decision-making responsibilities are one of two forms of parental responsibilities, previously known in Illinois as child custody. Significant decision-making responsibilities are most similar to what we previously knew as legal custody or the parent’s responsibility for making significant decisions about the child’s upbringing. Generally speaking, significant decision-making responsibilities typically include decisions about the child’s education (including where the child goes to school and who tutors the child), health care issues (including the types of medical, dental, and psychological treatments a child receives, as well as the providers the child sees), and religion (including what the child’s religious upbringing is and where the child receives religious training, education, and community).

Does the child get to have a say in how significant decision-making responsibilities are allocated? The answer to that question depends upon the specific facts of the case, but the IMDMA does allow the child’s wishes to be one consideration. Under the IMDMA, significant decision-making responsibilities are allocated according to what is in the best interests of the child. Whether the parents allocate these responsibilities in a parenting plan or the court does so in an allocation judgment, the “child’s best interests” must be what governs the allocation. In considering the child’s best interests, the IMDMA says that “all relevant factors” should be considered, including:

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IL custody lawyerWhen a married couple is considering divorce and has minor children from the marriage, deciding how the parents will share significant decision-making responsibilities for the child can be extremely complicated and contentious. As many parents in DuPage County likely know, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) no longer uses the term “child custody” or “visitation,” but instead uses the term “parental responsibilities,” which includes both important decision-making responsibilities for the child in addition to parenting time.

When parents can agree to terms, they can develop a parenting plan to allocate parental responsibilities. When parents cannot agree, the court issues an allocation judgment that details how parents will share parental responsibilities based on what is in the best interests of the child. The child’s religious upbringing is one of the major issues involved in significant decision-making responsibilities. We want to say more about how the allocation of parental responsibilities involves a child’s religious upbringing, and to encourage you to get in touch with an Oakbrook Terrace family law attorney if you have additional questions.

How Does Illinois Law Define a Child’s Religious Upbringing?

Under the IMDMA, “religious upbringing” is defined as the choice of religion or participation in religious customs or practices, among others.

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IL family lawyerIf you are considering divorce or currently are in the process of getting divorced and have minor children from your marriage, we know that you probably have many questions about child custody in DuPage County. If you have spoken with a family law attorney, or if you have a family member or friend who recently got divorced, you likely know that Illinois does not use the term “child custody” any longer. Courts do not award legal custody or physical custody when parents get divorced, and accordingly Illinois law no longer use the term “visitation.” Instead, you may know that courts in the state now use terms that include “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” to refer to who makes legal decisions about the child’s upbringing and the amount of time that a parent physically spends with the child.

Yet these new terms can get confusing. We often work with clients who want to know: what is the difference between parental responsibilities and parenting time? In short, parenting time is part of the overarching “parental responsibilities,” but we will explain more about how each of these terms is defined and used under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). If you need help with your case, a DuPage County child custody lawyer can speak with you today.

Defining Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time Under the IMDMA

The term “parental responsibilities” is the overarching language that is now used in Illinois instead of “child custody.” The statute defines parental responsibilities as parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities. As you can see, the term parental responsibilities is the more general, overarching term under which specific parental responsibilities are housed. Parenting time is defined as one form of parental responsibility, while significant decision-making responsibilities is the other form of parental responsibility. In effect, the term “parenting time” replaces the terms “physical custody” and “visitation,” while the term “significant decision-making responsibilities” replaces the term “legal custody.”

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