Reeder & Brown, P.C.



Divorce Attorneys Serving Joliet and Plainfield Explain Allocation of Decision-Making Authority

Illinois rewrote its divorce laws in 2016 to eliminate divisive terms like "custody" and "visitation," which seem to imply that when courts make decisions about these matters, one parent "wins" and the other parent "loses." Instead, state law now encourages couples to take a more cooperative approach to post-divorce parenting. The key terms you need to know are:

  • Parenting plan – Parents are encouraged to negotiate a mutually agreeable parenting plan, which will detail how they will work together to raise their children. This plan covers two main areas: the parenting time schedule and the allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities. It will also detail rules that apply to the parents, as well as dispute-resolution procedures or any other issues that need to be addressed to ensure that children's best interests will be protected.
  • Parenting time – Parenting time refers to the time when a parent has physical care of a child and the sole responsibility to make routine decisions about the child's daily activities and any necessary emergency decisions affecting the child's health and safety.
  • Significant decision-making responsibilities – The parenting plan must designate whether one parent alone or both parents jointly will have the authority to make decisions of long-term importance in a child's life in each of these areas: (1) education, (2) health care, (3) religious upbringing, and (4) extracurricular activities.
  • Allocation judgment – If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court-ordered plan is termed the allocation judgment.

At the law offices of Reeder & Brown, P.C., we understand that the issues that led you to pursue a divorce can also make it difficult to share parenting responsibilities with your ex. We will take the time to understand your concerns and priorities and to make sure that your final parenting plan addresses those concerns.

We have over 30 years' combined experience working with clients to negotiate divorce settlements and parenting plans for families in a wide variety of situations. You can depend on us to carefully consider your specific circumstances and thoughtfully recommend solutions that will meet your needs and the needs of your children.

Illinois Laws on Parental Care Taking and Decision-Making for Children

You can rely on Reeder & Brown, P.C. to look out for your rights and interests during all parenting plan negotiations and decisions. Because no one knows your family better than you do, we will work diligently to resolve all parenting issues at the negotiating table rather than leaving these important decisions to a judge. As you consider your options, it can be helpful to understand the criteria that the court would consider in making these decisions.

When allocating parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities, Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/602.5 and 602.7) directs the court to make decisions based on the child's best interests, considering factors including:

  • The desires of the child, considering the child's age and their ability to communicate with others and express their preferences.
  • The child's needs, including their adjustment to their home, community, and school.
  • The physical and emotional health of both parents and the child, as well as other family members who may be involved in a child's life.
  • The parents' ability to cooperate in decision-making.
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.
  • The level of each parent's past participation in making significant decisions about the child or in taking care of the child.
  • The desires of each parent.
  • The distance between the homes where each parent will live, any financial issues or other concerns related to transportation of children between the two homes, and the daily schedules of the parents and the child.
  • Any abuse, history of domestic violence, or threats made by a parent against their child or other family members.
  • Any other concerns that the court determines are relevant to the case.

Issues related to either parent's conduct that do not have an impact on their relationships with the child may not be considered. For example, if a parent has had an extramarital affair, this fact on its own will not necessarily affect decisions about child custody, even if the affair was one of the primary reasons for the divorce. However, if a parent has spent less time with their child or been less involved in making child-related decisions because they were focusing on a new romantic relationship, this behavior may be considered when addressing issues related to the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Joliet Parental Responsibilities Lawyers

At Reeder & Brown, P.C., we work with individuals and families in the communities in and around Will County, including Crest Hill, Bolingbrook, Plainfield, Joliet, Shorewood, and Lockport. Contact us at 815-885-5980 for a free consultation.

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