After parents separate, whether they are married or not, one of the most important decisions in the process is making arrangements for their child or children.  The primary concern involves deciding where the children will live primarily, and how to craft the best schedule for the parents and the children.

In 2016, major statutory amendments were enacted, which changed how “custody” and “visitation” were decided in Illinois courts. Today, this is referred to as “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” in child custody cases. Now, instead of the primary decision being whether the parents had joint custody, or one parent had sole custody, the Courts can allocate shared or sole decision-making responsibilities between the parents in four categories: health, education, religion, and extracurricular activities.   For each of these decisions, the Court can decide if one parent has the final say over that issue, or whether the parents must agree before the decision is made.

For parenting time, the legislature made it clear that spending time with your children was not “visitation,” but rather it was time parents spend caring for their children and performing “caretaking functions.”  The goal of the changes is to offer both parents a more inclusive approach to parenting, also taking away the former stigmas of being categorized as the “non-custodial” parent.  The new statute was written with the idea that the Courts should craft parenting schedules that maximize both parents’ involvement with their children and also their access to the children, in such a way that directly serves the children’s best interests.

Many clients in recent years have been increasingly curious about more modern trends regarding shared parenting schedules, known as “50-50 parenting”.  There are a variety of scheduling options if this is your goal, and some parents have also embraced the idea of “nesting” parenting.  Some cases, however, are not conducive to 50-50 parenting or nesting, and thus other parenting time schedules would need to be implemented.  These schedules would define the parent who has the majority of parenting time with the children, and also how often the other parent would have the children in his/her care.

If you have questions about your rights, whether in need of a father’s rights lawyer or other custodial parent questions, we can help craft the best parenting schedule for your family. Contact Kristen Strieker today for a consultation.