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Lombard family law attorneyIf you are a parent who is in the midst of a divorce, you probably have many questions about the future. “Where will I live?” “Will I be able to make enough money?” “What will happen to my kids?” As you probably know, the laws regarding child custody have undergone substantial changes in the last few years. The changes were designed to reduce competitiveness and friction between divorcing or unmarried parents and to encourage cooperative parenting. But what if your former partner is uninterested in taking responsibility for your child? Or, what if it scares you to leave your children with him or her? Fortunately, it is still possible for you to seek an amended version of what used to be called “sole custody” of your child.

New Names for Legal Custody and Physical Custody

At the beginning of 2016, sweeping reforms to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) took effect. The updates largely eliminated the term “child custody” and replaced it with the more nebulous phrase “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Under the amended law, parental responsibilities are divided into two primary areas. “Significant decision-making authority” replaced the previous concept of legal custody, and “parenting time” replaced the old idea of physical custody. Sole and joint custody were two different types of legal custody arrangements as they were established to clarify which parent or parents had the responsibility to make important decisions about the child’s life.

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parental responsibilities, child custody, Illinois family law attorneysWhile it does not occur in every case, it is certainly common enough. Following a divorce, separation, or breakup, many parents engage in a bitter battle over who will get custody of their children, and who will be relegated to visitation, often with reluctance on the part of the primary custodian. For many years, the laws in Illinois have provided the possibility of sole or joint custody, which parents too commonly saw as a content to be "won" or "lost." Starting next year, that will no longer be the case as the concept of child custody in the state of Illinois is getting a complete makeover.

Family Law Reform

The changes to child custody come as part of a sweeping measure that is drastically updating the state’s approach to divorce and family law in general. The law was passed earlier this year and was signed by the governor in July, paving the way for the updates to take effect on January 1, 2016.

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shared custody, joint custody, sole custody, child custody, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family lawAccording to a new study, there is a growing trend of shared child custody, with fewer courts awarding sole custody of children to the mother.

The study was done by researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The team examined the data from Wisconsin family courts from 1988 until 2008. They looked at more than 10,000 divorce cases.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, very few custody arrangements involved shared custody. Instead, the mother was typically awarded sole physical custody with the father awarded visitation, or parenting time.

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