Once upon a time in Illinois, courts mainly called it custody. Other states have different terms, as well. However, in recent years, Illinois law has changed on the subject, and the prevailing concept is to divide parenting time and responsibilities. If you are going through a divorce and have concerns about who will have the majority of the decision-making responsibilities or where the children will spend most of their time, take a deep breath and understand that no two divorce or child custody disputes are the same. Your unique situation may not be as bad as you think. Often, just a half-hour meeting with an experienced Hinsdale family law attorney can ease many of the fears and concerns you have. It is important to understand the difference between how courts now look at it, compared to the previous way.
Custody in the Past
In 2016, Section 5/600 of the Family Code was added, thereby creating something known as parenting allocation. Prior to that time, Illinois law treated the matter as custody. The overall view was that someone had to be named the custodial parent with whom the children would reside for the majority of their time. Then the other parent would be assigned visitation with their children. Unfortunately, although this method was practical, there was a distinct alienating effect to it. After all, who wants to “visit” their children? In the majority of cases where both parents are fit to care for children, this necessarily created a power imbalance or inequality in parenting roles.
Parenting Allocation Explained
Today, Illinois has taken a progressive approach to shared parenting responsibilities. Instead of treating one parent as the primary guardian and the other as a mere visitor, during a divorce or separation, the parties will have to come up with a parenting allocation agreement. If they cannot agree, the court will decide for them and generate a parenting allocation order. This sets forth what responsibilities each party will have, including which responsibilities will be shared. To the extent that parents can agree on how to share time with children and share decision-making, allocation can be quite flexible....