What is parental responsibility in Illinois?

Under a new law that took effect in 2016, parents’ time with children after a divorce is now seen as both a right and a responsibility.

When getting divorced, it is not uncommon for Illinois parents to be concerned about their children and their relationships with their children. While the loss of a marriage and spouse may be difficult for adults, the thought of having less time with their children can be even harder. It can also be challenging for children.

Historically, divorcing parents were awarded custody of their children. The two types of custody governed who would be able to make major decisions on behalf of the kids. It also outlined where kids would live. Visitation could be awarded even for parents who had no custody at all as a way of allowing some contact between parents and kids. All of that has now changed.

Parental responsibility is the new custody

In place of child custody, Illinois now recognizes parental responsibility. Our Family Wizard is an online solution that helps divorced parents co-parent more effectively. It explains that parental responsibility still delineates between legal decision making and everyday caretaking, much as how custody did.

With legal decision making, however, the new parental responsibility is different in that parents can choose to divide power for making decisions by topic. In one family, mom might make the choice about where the kids go to school while dad might make choices about what sports or other activities the kids are involved in outside of school.

Caretaking functions

When children are with a parent, that parent has the authority and the responsibility to execute all caretaking functions. This includes everything from potty training to helping with homework to preparing meals and taking kids to and from school or activities. The parent may also arrange for another person to help with some of these things. This may be a nanny, a relative or a neighbor, for example.

A parenting plan can detail out exactly which parent will have the ability to make which decisions on behalf of their kids. Parents can opt to share the power to make decisions or to split them up. The parenting plan will also identify which parent kids will be with when.

Guidance through the divorce process

Putting kids' needs first is important when getting divorced. A parental divorce can be traumatic for children. It is commonly known that maintaining contact with both parents is in a child's best interest except in cases involving abuse or other extenuating circumstances.

When faced with a potential divorce, Illinois parents should reach out to a lawyer. This is the best way to fully understand the state's new laws and learn how to protect and stay connected to children.