In 2016, Illinois will change the custody and visitation requirements per the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The changes to the Act will determine how and when individuals are awarded custody and visitation.

What is the Goal of the Act?

The Act wants to eliminate the feeling or perception of having winners and losers in a custody and visitation issue.

What Does Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Mean?

The Act eliminates the term “custody.” It now refers to custody as an “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Child custody refers to which parent a child lives with and which parent he or she spends time visiting. Different types of custody arrangements exist, ranging from legal, physical, sole, joint, and bird’s nest custody.

How will Allocation of Parental Responsibilities be Determined in Illinois?

Prior to the change, courts in Illinois determine custody in what was the best interest of the child.  Allocation of parental responsibilities now requires courts to take into consider specific factors like:

  • Education
  • Religion
  • Health
  • Extra-curricular activities

Can I Receive Sole Custody Under the Act?

Yes, sole custody is possible. However, the court can award sole and joint custody according to the categories, or factors, listed above. For example, the responsibility of where a child attends school may be given to the mother. The responsibility of which extra-curricular activities the child participates in may be given to the father. Both parents may share the decision-making responsibility about the health of the child.

What does Parenting Time Mean According to the Act?

The term “parenting time” refers to visitation rights. Parenting time refers to the time a non-custodial parent spends with his or her child.

Will the Family Court Still Honor Agreements between Parents?

Yes. Any prior parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities will be honored by the family court judge.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Determine Custody and Visitation Issues?

Yes. The Act’s new laws can be confusing. To understanding more about your rights, contact a family lawyer.