As times have changed, so to has the Illinois family-court system regarding what is known as “child custody.” Illinois no longer uses the term “custody” when referring to the legal rights and responsibilities of parents. Courts now put the focus on “parental responsibility” which includes “significant decision making” and “parenting time”.
How Is Parenting Time Allocated?
Whether two parents are unmarried and separating, or married and divorcing, there are two basic paths for creating a legally-binding parenting plan:
- Mediation through a qualified mediator
- Intervention by a judge in family court
Ideally, the parents work together to create a workable parenting plan by agreement. Parenting time can be shared by both parents and is an outline of when the child is physically with, or living with, each parent. Parenting time may be shared between both parents; this is called “shared parenting time”. Shared parenting time does not need to be exactly 50/50. It can be anywhere from 40% to 60% of the overnight parenting time periods in a given year. Parenting time may also be allocated primarily to one parent.
Likewise, decision-making can be shared by both parents regardless of how much physical care time each parent is allocated. Decision-making responsibilities include significant decisions concerning the child’s activities, education, medical care, etc. These are not day-to-day decisions, but decisions that may affect the child for months, or even years, to come.