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Changes To Illinois Child Custody Laws

 Posted on April 01, 2016 in Divorce

In 2016, Illinois passed legislation altering the laws concerning child custody. The new law seeks to make both parents more involved in the upbringing of their children and prevent feelings of exclusion for the betterment of the child. The changes bring Illinois more in line with other states across the country in terms of language and policy in family law.

Changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act went into effect January 2016, removing the terms “custody” and “visitation” from the law. Furthermore, the new changes also affect whether custodial parents may move with their children throughout the state.

Allocation of parental responsibilities

Senate Bill 57, which made the changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, now allows families and courts to divide and share responsibility for making decisions about the child’s upbringing. Under the old custody laws, parents with “sole custody” or those sharing in “joint custody” would be responsible for deciding:

  • Choice of school for the child or children;
  • Choice of doctor or healthcare treatment;
  • Religious upbringing of the child or children; and
  • Activities or sports in which the children may take part.

Parents without any custody rights would not have any input in these decisions under the old law. Now, courts help parents allocate parental responsibilities.

One parent may be responsible for the child’s education while the other may be responsible for his or her healthcare. Sometimes, judges may decide both parents share responsibility for various aspects of the child’s upbringing.

Parenting time

The term “visitation” has also been done away with by Senate Bill 57. Parenting time is the new term used to describe visitation by a non-custodian parent. The law hopes to foster more reasonable decision making and cooperation between separated parents.

Factors courts may take into consideration when assigning parenting time center around the best interests of the child. These factors include things like:

  • The wishes of the child;
  • Time parents spent with children in the years prior to divorce or separation;
  • Relationship between child and parents; and
  • Distance between two parents’ residences.

Child relocation

Senate Bill 57 also made changes to obtaining consent to relocate with children. Under the old laws, parents had to ask courts for permission to move with children out of state. Under the new law, parents in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County do not have to ask for permission if moving 25 miles or less away from their current residence, even if the move is to another state. However, any move that is in excess of 25 miles from the current residence requires consent from the other parent or the court, whether the move is in state or out of state.

Parents residing outside those aforementioned counties do not have to seek permission if moving within 50 miles of their current residence.

Illinois child custody attorneys

If you and your child’s other parent are considering filing for divorce, separating, or reworking arrangements for parenting time with your child, contact the experienced child custody attorneys of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. Our attorneys understand the challenges associated with making decisions for the best interest of children and can help parents in their time of need.

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