child custody & visitation
Allocation Of Parental Responsibilities
First, it is important to clarify that based on changes in the law, the courts in Illinois no longer use the terminology “child custody” and “visitation”. Rather, the courts in Illinois use the terminology “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” which includes “parenting time” (formerly known as visitation) and “significant decision-making responsibilities” (formerly known as child custody). There are four significant decision-making responsibilities: education, health, religion, and extracurricular activities.
Issues involving parenting time and decision-making can be very stressful because of the intense emotions parents have for their children. In Illinois, both the mother and the father are presumed to have certain rights, and the family law attorneys at KGN work hard to protect your rights when it comes to your children. Our goal is to help you get the parenting time and decision-making arrangement that you feel is in your children’s best interests.
Courts determine the allocation of parenting time based on the best interests of the child. A court can award 50/50 parenting time or a majority of parenting time to one parent. While the schedule for the parenting plan can vary, the court assumes that each parent is suitable to be with their child. However, if the court determines the child’s physical, mental, or moral health would be endangered by spending time with one or both of the parents, then the court may order restrictions on parenting time (i.e. supervision, exchanges of child in a protected setting, etc.).
The parent who is awarded the majority of parenting time is often also awarded the significant decision-making responsibilities, but not always. For example, the parent who does not have most of the parenting time may be a doctor and thus the judge may award that parent the decision-making responsibilities for health decisions.
The court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL). The GAL is a lawyer who represents the child’s best interests. The GAL investigates the facts of the case that affect the children and makes a recommendation to the court as to what is in the best interests of the child with respect to parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities.
The court considers numerous factors when determining a child’s best interest for purposes of allocating parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities. At KGN, our family law attorneys take the time to explain these factors to you, listen to your story, and fully understand your family’s situation. This allows us to analyze how your circumstances align with these factors and develop the best strategy for your case.
We strive to diffuse conflict and amicably resolve the parenting time and decision-making issues that arise, while remaining conscious of the potential impact this process may have on the children. If necessary, our office can consult with child therapists, counselors, developmental experts, and educational specialists to ensure your children receive the attention and care they deserve during this difficult time.