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What is the Difference Between Custody, Parental Responsibilities, and Parenting Time in Illinois?

 Posted on August 05, 2021 in Child Custody

lombard child custody lawyerIn 2016, a new law came into effect changing the way that Illinois’ courts handle child custody issues during and after divorce. Rather than calling a parent’s time and decision-making authority “custody,” the new law divides the parental relationship with a child into “parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities.” 

Parents going through a divorce may find these phrases confusing, especially since parenting time and parental responsibilities are often still colloquially lumped into the word “custody.” However, there are important differences. This blog post will define and discuss these terms. 

Why Did Illinois Stop Using the Term “Custody”? 

Finding the old terms “custody” and “visitation” to be too vague and old-fashioned, Illinois law replaced them with phrases that are more specific and reflect modern reality. “Custody” and “joint custody” are no longer legally recognized at all, and “visitation” is only used in the context of third parties, such as grandparents’ visitation rights. Although the words “custody” and “visitation” are no longer meaningful in the legal sense, the concepts they described are still very much relevant.

What is Parenting Time? 

Essentially replacing the term “custody,” parenting time is defined as the time in which a parent takes care of, and makes non-significant decisions for, the child. In other words, this is the basic, everyday care of a child: Preparing meals, helping with homework, making sure her teeth are brushed before bed. Some likely view this as a change in semantics, but others argue that in the same way a father does not “babysit” his children when the mother is out, a parent is not “visiting” their child when they share regular parent-child time.

What is the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities? 

Parental responsibilities are defined as parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities; allocation is the process of dividing and distributing. Illinois courts want to reflect the modern conception of parenting as a responsibility held by both parents. Therefore, courts presume that responsibility should be allocated to both parents when possible. However, all custody-related decisions are made according to the child’s best interests. A parent with parental responsibilities is entitled to make major decisions regarding which school the child will attend, which religion the child will be raised in, and where the child will receive her primary healthcare. Some parents assign all of the decision-making authority to one parent while other couples divide decision-making authority between the parents. For example, one parent would be in charge of the child’s education while the other parent manages healthcare concerns. 

Contact a Lombard, IL Divorce Attorney

The attorneys at A. Traub & Associates recognize that your relationship with your child is one of the most important things in your life. We will work with you to create a parenting agreement that reflects your child’s best interests and your individual circumstances. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney at 630-426-0196. Schedule your confidential consultation today.


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