Understanding Parental Responsibilities, Part 2; Parenting Time

Making decisions about parenting in the wake of a divorce can be extremely difficult. It is impossible to predict what the future holds, so your only option is to create a parenting plan that will facilitate cooperation between you and your former spouse for years to come. In a previous post, we discussed the concept of significant decision-making authority and how each parent may be assigned certain responsibilities in that regard. An Illinois parenting plan must also address each party’s parenting time which is a crucial element of fostering a strong relationship with your child.

Change in Terminology

Last year’s overhaul of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act included renaming “visitation” as “parenting time.” The idea behind the new terminology was to recognize that a parent should be considered as such and not seen as a “visitor” in the child’s life. Even parents with few or no decision-making responsibilities generally retain the rights to reasonable parenting time with their children.

Creating Parenting Time Schedule

In most cases, one parent is allocated a majority of the parenting time and the other parent receives the remaining portion. The other parent, for example, may have parenting time every other weekend and one or two evenings each week. There is, however, no presumptions or expectations set forth in the law. It is up to the parents—or the court—to develop a schedule that works for each party and protects the child’s best interests. Work obligations, the distance between the parents’ homes, holiday preferences, and the child’s adjustment to transitions are all important factors in determining a reasonable parenting time schedule.

A Common Misconception

A parent who has been allocated the majority of the parenting time with his or her child may be under the impression that he or she automatically has more decision-making authority. The law, however, provides that the two are separate considerations. One parent may have more parenting time, for example, but share decision-making responsibilities equally with the other parent. Conversely, one parent could have sole decision-making responsibility while both parents have roughly equal parenting time.

Parenting Time Questions?

If you would like to know more about the laws regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time in Illinois, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. Whether you are developing a parenting plan for the first time or are looking to increase the time you get with your children, our team can help you. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Kezy & Associates today.