Navigating Parental Responsibilities: A Q&A Guide
No one starts a family of their own thinking it will end in separation. However, parental rights and responsibilities are part of mothers’ and fathers’ role as their children’s caretakers after separation as much as it was prior. If you’ve got questions regarding parental responsibilities in Illinois, here’s what you need to know in 2023.
Married or not, raising a child is a complex and challenging task, and the responsibility of ensuring a child’s well-being falls on the shoulders of the parents.
However, in the event of a separation or divorce, the allocation of parental responsibilities can become a source of confusion and disagreement. This blog is an essential resource for parents going through separation or divorce in Illinois. Below, we will cover common questions about parental responsibilities and allocation during these events.
Here’s what you need to know.
Q: What is considerd “parental responsibility?”
A:Parental responsibility is a set of rights and duties that a parent or a legal guardian has towards their children. Usually, parental responsibility includes both ‘parenting time’ and ‘decision making’.
Q: What is Allocation of Parental Responsibilities?
A: There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois — joint allocation of parental responsibilities, sole allocation of parental responsibilities and shared allocation of parental responsibilities:
Joint allocation of parental responsibilities requires parents to cooperate in decision-making regarding education, health care and religious instruction. It does not mean that the children live with each parent for an equal amount of time. The parties will agree or the court will assign a residential parent. The non-residential parent will pay child support and exercise parenting time. The amount of time the children spends with the non-residential parent is addressed in a parenting time agreement or order.
Sole allocation of parental responsibilities is the term that describes the arrangement that gives one parent the responsibility for deciding everything related to the child’s welfare. It does not mean that the other parent is out of the picture. Parenting Time and parenting time can be the same in a sole allocation of parental responsibilities case as it is in a joint allocation of parental responsibilities case.
Shared allocation of parental responsibilities is a form of joint allocation of parental responsibilities. It is appropriate when the child spends equal time with each parent, the parents reside in the same school district and are able to joint parent.
Q: What is the process for allocating parental responsibilities in Illinois?
A: The process for allocating parental responsibilities in Illinois begins with the filing of a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities by one of the parents. The court will then conduct a hearing to gather information. From here, they will make a decision based on the best interests of the child. Both parents will have the opportunity to present evidence and testify. The court may also appoint an attorney for the child or a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s interests.
Q: What are the factors considered by the court in Illinois when allocating parental responsibilities?
A: In Illinois, the court will consider a number of factors when allocating parental responsibilities, including the child’s needs, the relationship between the child and each parent, and each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs. The court will also consider the following:
- History of abuse or neglect
- The child’s own wishes, if they are old enough to express them.
Q: What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody in Illinois?
A: In Illinois, legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as decisions about education and healthcare. Whereas physical custody is based on where the child lives and who is responsible for the child’s day-to-day care.
In many cases, the court will award joint legal custody to both parents. Meaning both parents have equal rights and responsibilities when it comes to making decisions about the child. Physical custody can be awarded either on a joint or sole basis. The court will rule in the best interests of the child.
Q: Can a parent’s allocation of parental responsibilities be modified after the initial court order in Illinois?
A: Yes, a parent’s allocation of parental responsibilities can be modified after the initial court order in Illinois if there has been a significant change in circumstances. This could include the following:
- A change in the child’s needs.
- A change in one parent’s living situation or ability to care for the child.
- A change in the child’s relationship with one of the parents.
Q: What happens if one parent is deemed unfit to have parental responsibilities?
A: If a parent is deemed unfit to have parental responsibilities, the court may award sole custody to the other parent or to a third party, such as a grandparent. This may be the case if a parent has a history of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse, or if they are unable to provide for the child’s needs. The parent’s rights and responsibilities may be limited, but they may still have the right to visit the child.
Q: Are grandparents’ rights taken into consideration in Illinois when allocating parental responsibilities?
A: Yes, grandparents in Illinois can petition for certain rights, such as visitation rights, if they have an existing relationship with the child and the court finds that it’s in the child’s best interests.
Next Steps To Consider
Protect your children’s interests during a separation or divorce by taking these steps:
- Establish legal custody: Legal custody determines who has the authority to make decisions about the child’s welfare, including education, healthcare, and religion. This can be joint or sole custody. In Illinois, child custody is called parental responsibilities.
- Create a parenting plan: A parenting plan outlines how the child will be cared for and how much time they will spend with each parent. This should include details such as a schedule for visits, transportation arrangements, and communication protocols.
- Communicate with your ex-partner: It is important to maintain open lines of communication with your ex-partner. Especially when it comes to the well-being of your child.
- Prioritize your child’s needs: The child’s best interests should always be the top priority. Put aside personal differences and work together to provide a stable and nurturing environment for the child.
- Seek legal advice if needed: If you have any legal questions or concerns, it is best to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.
The allocation of parental responsibilities during a divorce or separation can be a difficult and emotional process. Working with a professional family law firm like Masters Law Group can provide a great help in navigating this often emotionally-charged process.
We are dedicated to protecting your rights, and more importantly, the rights of your child/children. Our Senior Attorneys Erin E. Masters and Anthony G. Joseph have extensive experience working with cases involving children in family law conflicts. Ms. Masters is a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, Mr. Joseph is also on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
If you’re facing a family law issue, don’t hesitate to contact Masters Law Group for the professional assistance you need here today.