dupage county child custody lawyerIf you are a parent who is considering divorce, planning to end your marriage, or in the midst of the divorce process, one of your biggest concerns is likely to be how you and your spouse will share custody of your children. Each of you may have different expectations about how parenting issues should be handled and where your children will live, and determining how to resolve these disagreements can often be difficult. As you proceed with your divorce, you will need to be sure to understand how Illinois law applies to you and how you can create a parenting plan that will allow you to provide for your children’s best interests in the years to come.

Sharing Legal and Physical Custody of Children

Child custody involves two different areas of concern: the allocation of parental responsibilities (usually referred to as legal custody) and parenting time (often called physical custody or visitation). Parental responsibilities address the parents’ right to make important decisions when raising their children. These decisions include education, healthcare, religion, and activities that children will participate in. Parenting time includes any time that children will be cared for by either parent, including when they stay at a parent’s home or spend time with them at other locations.

Generally, family courts in Illinois presume that parents should share in the allocation of parental responsibilities. However, depending on how parents made decisions for their children while they were married, how well they are able to work together, and other relevant factors, sole or primary responsibility may be allocated to one parent in certain areas. For example, parents may equally share responsibility in the areas of religion and education, but one parent may have the right to make all decisions about children’s health and medical care.

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illinois custody lawyerWhen parents choose to get divorced, they will need to address multiple issues related to child custody. In an uncontested divorce, parents may reach agreements on how these issues should be handled. If an agreement cannot be reached, litigation may be necessary, and a family court judge may make the final decisions on how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be allocated between the parents. Regardless of the approach taken during the divorce process, the parents’ divorce decree will include a parenting plan that details all decisions made about child custody.

Elements of a Parenting Plan

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that a parenting plan must include the following:

  • Details about how decision-making responsibilities will be allocated between the parents. Responsibility may be shared equally by parents or solely allocated to one parent, and the areas of responsibility that will be addressed include education-related decisions, health-related decisions, religious decisions, and the choice of children’s extracurricular or recreational activities.

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dupage county child custody laywerIt is common for people’s lives to change after they get divorced, and these changes may prompt a move to a new city or even another area of the country. In some cases, a person may be pursuing job opportunities or wish to relocate to live near their family members. While a person will no longer need to consult with their ex-spouse when making the decision to move, their relocation could potentially affect matters related to child custody. If the parent who is moving has primary custody of the couple’s children, this might mean that the other parent would be able to spend less time with their kids, and it may limit their ability to be involved in decisions about children’s upbringing. Because of this, one parent may object to a planned relocation by the other parent. It is important to understand how the laws in Illinois address these situations.

Parental Relocation in Illinois

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), a move by a parent who lives in DuPage County or other counties in the greater Chicago area is considered to be a relocation if their new home will be at least 25 miles away from their current home. If the couple’s children live with the parent who is planning for the majority of the time with the couple’s children, or if the parents have equal amounts of parenting time, the other parent must be provided with written notification at least 60 days prior to the date of the planned relocation. If this is not feasible, such as if a move is planned within 60 days, a parent must provide notification at the earliest practical date.

If there are no objections to the relocation, the non-moving parent can sign the notice, and the moving parent can submit this notice to the court, which will approve the relocation. If modifications to the parents’ parenting plan will be required, the court will usually approve these changes, as long as they are in the children’s best interests.

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IL family lawyerIf you are going to file for divorce and you have minor children from your marriage, or if you are in the early stages of a DuPage County divorce case that will involve child custody, it is important to understand how Illinois law defines child custody and how courts in the state handle child custody cases. As you might already know, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs child custody or the allocation of parental responsibilities. Rather than awarding child custody to one or both parents, Illinois courts allocate parental responsibilities, which include significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. Significant decision-making responsibilities are somewhat akin to what courts used to describe as legal custody, while parenting time is somewhat akin to what courts used to describe as physical custody and visitation.

Within the allocation of parental responsibilities, you might learn about something known as “caretaking functions.” What are caretaking functions in child custody in Illinois? In short, caretaking functions are the responsibilities that parents have for their children when they have parenting time. Our experienced DuPage County child custody lawyers want to provide you with more information about caretaking functions and how they might apply to your child custody case.

Defining Caretaking Functions Under Illinois Law

The IMDMA defines caretaking functions as “tasks that involve interaction with a child that direct, arrange, and supervise the interaction with and care of a child provided by others, or for obtaining the resources allowing for the provision of these functions.” In practical terms, and on a day-to-day basis, caretaking functions may include but are not limited to the following:

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are in the early stages of your divorce case, or if you are considering a divorce in DuPage County, you may have concerns about your child’s religious upbringing once you and your spouse are sharing parental responsibilities from different households. Many parents in the DuPage Muslim community have had similar concerns while going through divorce cases, and it is important to know that Illinois law does have specific elements to guide courts in determining how a child’s religious upbringing will be handled after a divorce.

Generally speaking, courts will respect any agreement the parents have made about the child’s religious upbringing, but it is essential to have an experienced DuPage County child custody lawyer on your side who can represent you. Even if you do have an agreement with your spouse, divorces and child custody cases can get contentious, and you will need an advocate on your side.

When You Have an Express Agreement with Your Spouse About Your Child’s Religious Upbringing

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), determining how a child’s religious upbringing will be handled after a divorce is one part of the process of allocating parental responsibilities. The IMDMA clearly suggests that parents’ previous agreements generally will be upheld by the court. Accordingly, if you have an express agreement with your spouse—ranging from a legal contract that has been drawn up prior to or after the marriage, to a series of emails between you and your spouse in which you reach an agreement—the court will defer to the parents’ express agreement concerning the child’s religious upbringing.

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