Parenting Time in Illinois

Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer,Since January 1, 2016, sweeping changes to Illinois family laws have taken effect. Through the alterations to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/), couples who are thinking about divorcing will notice numerous changes in terminology. In some cases, the changes to the law will have an immediate impact. In other situations, the shifts in the law are largely semantic ones intended to have symbolic import. And such a change is precisely how we would categorize the change from “visitation” time that parents have with their kids after divorce to “parenting time.” In other words, the legal language of “visitation” has been removed from the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) in favor of language that speaks to the human realities of a parent’s relationship with his or her child.

Legal Language of “Parenting Time”

What does parenting time mean, exactly? First, it falls under Part VI of the IMDMA, which governs the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Under the law, parenting time is defined as “the time during which a parent is responsible for exercising caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making responsibilities with respect to the child.” Looking at this specific language, it becomes important to understand what the law means when it refers to “caretaking functions.”

When a parent is tasked with caretaking functions for his or her child, what precisely are those caretaking functions? The law also provides examples of caretaking functions in the IMDMA. For example, caretaking functions can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Satisfying the nutritional needs of the child;
  • Managing the child’s routines for bedtime and waking;
  • Caring for the child when s/he gets sick or becomes injured;
  • Taking care of the child’s personal hygiene;
  • Attending to the child’s extracurricular schedule;
  • Ensuring the physical safety of the child;
  • Attending to the child’s developmental needs;
  • Disciplining the child;
  • Ensuring the child’s attendance at school;
  • Ensuring the child’s attendance at medical appointments;
  • Providing guidance on moral and ethical issues; and
  • Arranging alternate, safe care for the child when the parent cannot be present.

Aspects of parenting time fall under the larger rubric of “parental responsibilities,” which also include making significant decisions concerning the child.

Determining Who Gets Parenting Time

Generally speaking, courts address factors for parenting time in much the same manner they considered visitation factors. The court typically will approve a “parenting plan,” which is a written agreement that lays out the amount of parenting time for each parent (in addition to making clear how significant decision-making responsibilities are allocated). What are some factors the court will consider in determining amounts of parenting time? For instance, courts may consider some of the following:

  • Parents’ histories of caregiving for the child;
  • Wants of the child;
  • Wants of the parent (and why the parent has those wants);
  • Parents’ willingness to be cooperative;
  • Parents’ histories of physical and/or mental health;
  • Parents’ histories of disciplining the child;
  • Recommendations from experts, such as child psychologists; and
  • Other factors that speak to the best interests of the child.

For Muslim families in Oakbrook Terrace who are thinking about the implications of divorce, it is important to learn more about parenting time and the ways in which family laws in our state think about parents’ relationships with their children. At Farooqi & Husain Law Office, we are dedicated to helping members of the Muslim community with questions and concerns about divorce and parenting time. An experienced Oakbrook Terrace family law attorney at our firm can speak with you today. Contact us to learn more about our services.


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