Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (Formerly Known As Child Custody)

Responsive Child Custody Attorneys Serving Cook, Lake and DuPage County

The divorce lawyers of M. Scott Gordon & Associates understand that the most difficult aspect of any legal case is the question of Illinois child custody. Section 602.5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act requires a court to determine allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as custody) in accordance with the best interest of the child. The court shall consider all of the following:

Determining Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

  • the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making;
  • the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  • the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  • the ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making;
  • the level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child;
  • any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision-making with respect to the child;
  • the wishes of the parents;
  • the child’s needs;
  • the distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
  • whether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate under Section 603.10;
  • the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
  • the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child;
  • the occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  • whether one of the parents is a sex offender and if so, the exact nature of the offense and what, if any, treatment in which the parent has successfully participated; and
  • any other factor that the court expressly find to be relevant.

Assigning temporary guardianship may be an option in the event that neither parent is capable of taking care of the child(ren).

Often, couples can agree upon a child living primarily with one parent. However, the court must decide if one party is to be granted sole allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as custody) or if the parties are to have joint Illinois allocation of parental responsibilities. If a parent has sole parental responsibilities of a child, that parent essentially can make all major decisions regarding the child. What if the parents agree about the child remaining primarily with one parent, but one insists upon joint decision making? If the parties have joint decision making of the child, the court will designate one parent’s residence as the primary residence for the child, and the parties make major decisions involving the child jointly. Generally, this involves larger issues surrounding education, healthcare and religious upbringing. Under a joint parenting agreement, the residential parent for the child makes the typical day-to-day decisions affecting the child. Your Cook County area child custody attorney can help you draft a joint parenting agreement that best serves the needs of the children and each parent. A lawyer can also assist you in reaching an agreement over the difficult issues of child support and visitation (now known as parenting time).

If joint allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as custody) is envisioned, the parties need to enter into an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Plan Agreement, which will govern specifically how their joint responsibilities operate. When is joint Illinois allocation of parental responsibilities suitable? Our courts have held that joint decision making is proper when the parties can communicate reasonably regarding issues involving the child. Although many parents cannot communicate and have decided to divorce, many others are still able to discuss issues involving their child. A divorce lawyer may advise clients that joint allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody) is better for both the parents and the child in the long run if the parents can communicate. Parents who communicate after a divorce are not only helping themselves but are also helping their child adjust to the divorce. Parents who continually fight before, during and after a divorce put a tremendous amount of stress on a child, and this is obviously unhealthy. However, we also tell our clients that if they cannot cooperate with the other parent regarding the child, entering into a Joint Parenting Agreement is not recommended. Parties simply incapable of cooperating regarding the child are setting themselves up for failure and future conflicts if he or she bind himself or herself to an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Plan which requires joint decision making.

Let an experienced child custody attorney help you determine what’s best

Email our experienced appeals attorneys at M. Scott Gordon & Associates or call  our Chicago office at 312.360.0250 or our suburban office at 847.329.0101 now so we can help you with your custody case.

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