Co-Parenting and Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities

decision-making, DuPage County family law attorneyIf you are in the process of getting divorced or ending a relationship with your child’s other parent, you undoubtedly realize that the road ahead is likely to be a tough one. Even in the most amicable of situations, making arrangement regarding your roles as co-parents can be extremely challenging. There are many considerations that go into developing a workable parenting plan, of course, but certain elements are generally recognized as being among the most important. The authority over such aspects of the child’s life are known under the law as significant decision-making responsibilities, and they represent a major portion of any co-parenting agreement.

Formerly Legal Custody

For many years, the state of Illinois addressed parenting roles in terms of physical and legal custody. Physical custody referred to a parent’s access to the child. In most cases, a parent would be granted at least shared physical custody of the child, meaning the child would be able to spend in the home of both parents on some type of rotating basis. Legal custody, by comparison, referred to the authority of the parents to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. This was allocated in one of a couple ways: legal custody could be granted to one parent in a sole custody arrangement, or shared between both parents in a joint custody agreement.

With recent changes to Illinois law taking effect in 2016, the term “custody” has been removed from the applicable statutes. The considerations that were previously contained under the concept of legal custody are now simply referred to as significant decision-making responsibilities. By doing so, the law also removed the need for designations of the custodial and non-custodial parent, which many believe lead to unnecessary contentious in related proceedings.

What Are Significant Decisions?

In order for parents to reach an agreement about significant decision-making responsibilities, they must first realize what these responsibilities include. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, significant decisions are those that involve “issues of long-term importance in the life of a child.” The statute goes on to clarify that these issues are to include:

  • The child’s education, including the choice of school;
  • Health and medical care;
  • Religious training; and
  • Extracurricular activities, including sports, jobs, or clubs.

While the law does provide the court with the ability to allocate decision-making responsibilities between parent, there is a presumption that parents will make the effort to do it themselves. You and the other parent are encouraged to determine which of you is best-suited to make which decisions, and which ones should be made together.

Professional Help for Your Case

Your parenting plan is a crucial component of the allocation of parental responsibilities, and one that often requires the assistance of an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. At the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., we take pride in helping families find reasonable solutions to their most challenging legal concerns. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule your confidential consultation today.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+VI&ActID=2086&ChapterID=0&SeqStart=8350000&SeqEnd=10200000

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