Parental Responsibilities, Part Two: Parenting Time

parenting time, DuPage County family law attorneysA divorced, separated, or unmarried parent should never feel like a stranger in the life of his or her child. For many parents, however, that was often their reality as Illinois—like many states—used to refer to their time with their children as “visitation.” A parent who is seen as a “visitor,” rather than integral part of the child’s life, could experience a variety of problems, including a lack of parental authority and the appearance of not being fully committed to his or her child’s best interests.

Last year, however, an amended law took effect which proved that Illinois lawmakers recognized the struggles of many divorced parents. The new law was an effort to “level the playing field” so to speak between parents with different levels of parental responsibilities.

Visitation Is Now Parenting Time

In a recent post on this blog, we discussed the recent changes in the law regarding child custody. That blog focused on significant decision-making responsibilities, but it mentioned that parenting time is also a primary consideration for parents and the courts during a divorce. The concept of parenting time replaced the old understanding of parental visitation, and the change in terminology more accurately reflects the situation of most divorce, separated, and unmarried parents. No parent deserves to automatically be treated as an outsider, and the new law is a big step in the right direction.

Developing a Parenting Time Schedule

If you and your child’s other parent are on amicable terms, you have the ability to negotiate a parenting plan that includes a workable parenting time schedule. Your schedule may reflect your respective work responsibilities, your child’s school calendar, and other considerations, but it should always keep your child’s best interest as the top priority. Some parents opt for a more balanced approach with each parent getting parenting time several days per week while others use a plan that involves longer stretches for the child with each parent. Whatever works best for your family is fine as long as your schedule does not compromise your child’s needs.

More Complicated Situations

According to Illinois law, even parents with absolutely zero authority for significant decision making still have the right to reasonable parenting time. The law also specifies that a person’s right to parenting time should only be restricted if time with the parent presents a serious danger to the child. Even then, the court will usually place restrictions or limitations—such as supervised parenting time or requiring a parent to abstain from alcohol around the child—before taking the more serious step of terminating the right to parenting time.

Call Us for Help

If you have questions about your rights to parenting time or any other element of parental responsibilities, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. at [[phone]] for a confidential consultation today.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+VI&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=8350000&SeqEnd=10200000

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