How Child Custody/Allocation of Parental Responsibility Works in Illinois

During the course of a divorce or case involving parents who are not married, Parental Responsibility will be awarded to one or both of the parties. The court can award sole or joint parental responsibility, and one parent will usually be designated the residential parent where the child(ren) reside primarily. The non-residential parent will likely have a parenting time (visitation) schedule with the child(ren) which can vary from little or no time with the child(ren) to sometimes equal time as the residential parent. Parents also typically enter into a written parenting agreement which provides for holiday and vacation time and unusual circumstances. To learn more about the issues you might face as a parent during this type of situation, please contact us.

Parenting Agreements and Allocation Judgments

The parenting plan will direct the future parental and parent-child relationships. For this reason, parents should be actively involved in developing the parenting plan. Research suggests that when the parents can work together to develop the parenting plan, the plan is much easier to implement and works more effectively. If the parents are cooperatively parenting, they can be supportive of each other, share responsibilities, and make decisions regarding the child’s care and well-being.

The Parenting Plan

Parents know the most about the child and the child’s needs. Parents are also aware of their parenting strengths. The parenting plan should be based on both parents’ strengths in meeting the child’s needs. A parenting plan should have the following: how major decisions will be made, the living or residential arrangements of the child and how the child’s time is shared between parents, when an emergency decision-making situation occurs, the other parent should be notified as soon as possible, a holiday visitation schedule, dealing with unusual events, winter and summer break, information sharing and any other items that need to be outlined regarding the child.

Parenting Time (Visitation) Rights for Parents in Illinois

Child parenting time rights are awarded to both parents who are parties to a divorce or other type of case. During the case process, a court may award short term or temporary parenting time rights to one parent while a permanent schedule is worked out. Parenting time schedules are always modifiable if there is a change in circumstances.

Parenting time rights are considered a privilege rather than an automatically given right. If the court determines that it is not in the best interest of the child(ren) to award parenting time rights to one parent, s/he may award all the parenting time to one parent.

Conversely, if one parent receives both parenting time rights and child support payment requirements, he may not lose his/her parenting time rights even if he/she fails to pay child support. This does not mean, however, that there are no repercussions for failing to pay court-ordered child support. There are numerous ways that a parent can be punished for failing to pay child support, but loss of child parenting time rights is not one of them.

Allocation of Parental Responsibility laws allow parents to work out a reasonable visitation plan at their discretion so long as this plan is in the best interest of the children and both parents can agree to the terms. Negotiating child parenting time rights can be done independently or with the help of a neutral third party mediator. A mediator can facilitate a discussion of each parent’s needs and wants with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement about child parenting time rights without going to trial.

If an agreement cannot be reached through independent or mediated negotiations, the court may intercede to determine a parents parenting time rights. The court may also determine parenting time in cases involving domestic violence or highly conflicted families. When the court determines parenting time, it will develop a child visitation schedule that both parents and the child are bound by. A typical child parenting time schedule allows the non-residential parent time spent with the child every other weekend, sometime during the week, and certain holidays.

Parenting time schedules can be changed for a variety of reasons including: relocation of the custodial parent, violation of a court order, a parent’s job change, danger posed to the children by one parent, and more. The person who wishes to change any part of child parenting time rights must petition the court for approval. The goal of parenting time is to allow each parent an opportunity to develop a parental bond with their children even if the marital bond no longer exists.

Paternity & Parentage

Establishing paternity, known as parentage under Illinois law, is a crucial first step in ensuring that a child receives financial support and a father’s rights are protected. As your attorney, we can help you get a simple, high-accuracy DNA test. Alternately, fathers can also sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. By signing this form, a father assumes all the rights and obligations that come with having a child. In a parentage case, child support, visitation and custody are all issues that need to be resolved. For help navigating this difficult legal terrain, contact the Law Offices of Patrick Markey to schedule a consultation.

Adoption and the Legal Process

There are several types of adoption, including stepparent, adult, co-parent, grandparent or relative, and standby adoption. In every adoption, with the exception of adult adoption, the biological parents’ rights must be terminated either voluntarily or after the court finds them to be unfit parents. The court will also need to find that adoption is in the best interests of the child(ren). The attorneys at the Law Offices of Patrick Markey, P.C. are experienced in this complex field of family law and can help you through the adoption process from start to finish, no matter which type of adoption is required. Contact us to learn more, and to begin the resolution of the adoption issues you face.