What Are Parental Responsibilities?

As we get further into 2016, the new laws regarding child custody and other family concerns are beginning to have an impact on court proceeding around the state of Illinois. It is much too early to identify any emerging trends or inclinations of the court, as of yet, but it probably will not be long before that starts to happen. In the meantime, it may be useful to look a little closer at what the changes to the law may bring to families currently going through a divorce or other legal process in which what was once known as child custody is a consideration.

Vicious Custody Battles

Language and terminology are often underestimated regarding the power they may have. Think about how offended a person can become if certain words are used as insults or to describe a particular philosophy. For many years, the use of specific terms in family law-related statutes created a divide between parents that often to bitter and contentious disputes regarding their roles in their children’s lives.

It became too easy to allow a child custody proceeding to stray from its intended focus on the child. In an unacceptable number of cases, parents were seemingly more interested in “winning” sole custody or relegating the other parent to “non-custodial” status. Not only was such an approach detrimental to the current proceedings, the mentality tended to carry over into the child’s life for years to come.

Updated Approach

Beginning this month, new orders regarding parental responsibilities will no longer contain the terms “sole custody,” “joint custody,” “custodial parent,” or “non-custodial parent.” Instead, they will provide for a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between the parties. Whenever possible, in fact, the new law explicitly expects parents to cooperatively develop a parenting plan to be approved by the court.

Parental responsibilities can be divided into two distinct categories. The first includes significant decision-making responsibilities, such as education, health care, religious training, and extracurricular activities. These decisions will obviously have a major impact on the child’s life and the authority for making them will be assigned to one or both parents as appropriate. The second category is comprised of caretaking functions, which include day-to-day living activities and decisions for the child. Each parent is presumed to be responsible for caretaking functions during his or her parenting time, previously known as visitation.

Qualified Legal Help

If you about to become involved in a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities, it is important to speak with an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. We can help you prepare for your case, as well as to draft a parenting plan that meets your family’s needs. Call Kezy & Associates at 708-518-8200 to schedule a no-cost consultation today.