Modifications To Child Custody Patterns | Illinois Law


Illinois Changes in Child Custody

Illinois Changes in Child Custody

Illinois changes in child custody laws may impact custody arrangements, visitation rights, and parental responsibilities, affecting how courts determine the best interests of the child in custody cases.


One of the most crucial issues to be settled during a divorce is parenting time and responsibilities. Everyone affected by a divorce finds it challenging, but children who have to deal with their parents’ separation the most often suffer from it. Research has demonstrated that children, even in the aftermath of a divorce, consistently gain from having positive relationships with both parents. For this reason, deciding on parenting schedules and duties is a crucial aspect of the divorce process.

When deciding on parental responsibilities and parenting time in the State of Illinois, the child’s best interests always come first. What to expect from child custody rules and the most recent developments regarding these laws in Illinois are covered in this guide. This article can assist in securing a result that is in your children’s best interests if you are divorcing in Illinois and have children.

Illinois Removed the Word “Custody”

Although the term “custody” is no longer used by the State of Illinois, many people nevertheless associate it with these matters. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act did away with the term “custody” in 2016. “Parenting time” and “parenting responsibility” are the official phrases that are currently in use. Each of these terms is defined as follows by the State of Illinois:

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Parenting time

Describes how much time a parent spends with their child or children.

Parenting responsibility

This pertains to the inherent authority that parents have to make decisions on behalf of their offspring. Decisions about schooling, health care, and extracurricular activities fall under three primary areas when it comes to parenting.

The courts can assist in allocating parenting time and responsibilities during a divorce procedure so that each parent knows what decisions they are responsible for making for their children and can spend their allotted time with them.

Children’s Best Interests

The best interests of the children are given priority by Illinois courts when making decisions regarding parenting time and responsibilities. By using this method, the courts will make sure that the decision is actually in the best interests of the children by taking into account all relevant facts and circumstances.

In these circumstances, some may anticipate that the mothers will obtain custody of the kids, however Illinois law no longer operates in this manner. The “tender year’s doctrine,” which was predicated on the idea that mothers were the best people to care for their children during what were thought to be their “tender years,” was the legal basis upon which women were traditionally granted custody. After the number of cases in which women received sole custody decreased and the number of cases involving shared custody rose in the 1990s and 2000s, the “tender years doctrine” was abandoned. The allocation of parenting time and responsibilities is determined by a number of variables under the present rules in Illinois, with the children’s best interests always being the first consideration.

Calculating Parental Responsibilities and Time

These cases are now handled by the courts based on parenting time and decision-making duties rather than child custody. Parenting time and other decision-making tasks will be allocated to each parent, taking into account a range of circumstances.

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There are other types of parenting obligations, such as choices for extracurricular activities, extracurricular education, healthcare, and religion. When assigning parental obligations, the Illinois courts will take into account the following factors:

1. Children’s needs and wishes

2. The parents’ desires

3. Any prior agreements around decision-making Which decisions were made by which parent in the past

4. The parents’ and kids’ physical and mental well-being

5. The kids’ adjustment to a new home, school, and community

6. Each parent’s capacity to reach a reasonable decision for their child

7. Both parents’ capacity to collaborate when making decisions for their kids

8. The distance between the parents’ residences and how that might impact parenting duties

9. Whether one of the parents has ever threatened the health, welfare, or safety of the children

10. Whether there has ever been any child abuse, including emotional abuse and acts or threats of physical violence from the parents;

11. Whether one of the parents has ever engaged in sexual activity, including details of the offense, charges, and convictions related to it.

The following elements will be taken into account by Illinois courts when determining parenting time allocation

1. The children’s desires; each parent’s desires

2. The length of time each parent has spent caring for the children during the last 24 months, or since the kid was born for children under the age of two, before a petition to divide parenting time and responsibilities was filed

3. Any prior arrangements the two parents may have had on caregiving duties and time

4. How the kids interact and relate to their parents, siblings, and other adults in their lives who might have an impact on their best interests

5. The way the kids are adjusting to life at home, in the neighborhood, and at school

6. The parents’ and kids’ mental and physical well-being

7. Specific needs of the children ⋅

8. The distance between each parent’s homes
9. The difficulty and cost of traveling between them
10. The parents’ and kids’ daily schedules,
11. The willingness of each parent to assist with travel arrangements ⋅

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12. Whether a parenting time restriction is required ⋅

13. Physical violence or the threat of physical violence from the parents or another household member ⋅
14. Each parent’s willingness to support their children’s close and ongoing relationship with the other parent

15. Any abuse inflicted upon the children or other household members

16. Whether one parent is a convicted sex offender, including the nature of the offense and any treatment they have received

Frequently Asked Questions About Illinois Changes in Child Custody

1. What are the recent changes in Illinois child custody laws?

Recent changes in Illinois child custody laws have shifted towards promoting the child’s best interests, emphasizing shared parenting responsibilities, and considering each parent’s involvement in the child’s upbringing.

2. How do these changes affect custody arrangements and visitation rights?

These changes aim to encourage more equitable custody arrangements and promote shared parenting time between both parents, provided it’s in the child’s best interests.

3. What factors do Illinois courts consider when determining child custody?

Illinois courts consider various factors, including the child’s preferences (if mature enough), each parent’s involvement in the child’s life, the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse.

4. Are there any specific guidelines or criteria for determining the best interests of the child?

Yes, Illinois law provides specific factors for courts to consider when determining the child’s best interests, including the child’s needs, each parent’s ability to meet those needs, the child’s adjustment to their home, and any history of abuse or neglect.

5. How do parental responsibilities and decision-making authority factor into custody decisions?

Parental responsibilities and decision-making authority are key components of custody decisions, and Illinois law distinguishes between significant decision-making responsibilities (such as healthcare, education, and religion) and day-to-day parenting time.

6. Are there any alternative dispute resolution options available for custody cases in Illinois?

Yes, Illinois encourages alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaborative law to help parents reach custody agreements outside of court.

7. How can parents modify existing custody agreements in light of the new changes?

Parents can seek modification of existing custody agreements by demonstrating a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a modification and by showing that the proposed change is in the child’s best interests.

8. What resources are available for parents navigating child custody issues in Illinois?

Parents in Illinois can access resources such as legal aid organizations, family law attorneys, mediation services, and parenting education programs to help navigate child custody issues.


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