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A Quick Guide to Illinois' Child Custody Terminology

Posted on in Child Custody

Wheaton Family Law AttorneyIf this is your first time being involved in a child custody case, a lot of things might feel very unfamiliar. You are probably not used to needing a court order to tell you which parent should have the child with them and when. You may be paying or receiving child support for the first time. The entire process of deciding issues related to child custody and child support can be complex. Some of the terminology used can also feel unfamiliar and confusing when you are not used to it. Illinois changed the way courts and lawyers talk about child custody to reframe important issues. This quick guide should help you understand what is being discussed at all times. An attorney can also help you keep track of everything going on in your custody case. 

Terms You Should Know and What They Mean

You may not even see the term “child custody” used. You will not find the term in the Dissolution of Marriage Act at all. Instead, we use the terms “parenting time” and “parental responsibility.” Some key terms you should know include: 

  • Parenting time - The term “parenting time” has replaced “physical custody” and “visitation.” Parenting time is the time a divorced parent physically has the child with them. It encompasses primary custody, visitation, supervised visitation, and any other time that a child spends with one parent. Illinois lawmakers felt that a parent does not “visit” their own child so much as they spend time parenting their child, so the terminology was updated. 

  • Parental responsibility - This broad term refers to how parenting duties are allocated. This may include the right to make significant decisions for and about the child. It may also include the responsibility to pay child support, or to provide health insurance, or any other duty a parent has to the child. 

  • Decision-making responsibility - This term has replaced “legal custody.” Decision-making responsibility can be shared or one parent can have sole responsibility here. The term refers to the right to make important decisions for and about the child including those related to the child’s medical or mental health care and education. It may also include the right to raise the child in a certain religion, or the ability to sign permission slips and liability waivers on behalf of the child. 

  • Parenting plan - This encompasses the entire arrangement for co-parenting. 

The new terminology may actually be more clear than the prior language, once you become familiar with it. It is also meant to be worded in a way that sounds less harsh and encourages collaborative co-parenting. 

Contact a DuPage County Attorney for Parental Responsibilities

Davi Law Group is committed to helping divorced parents work out a parenting time arrangement that is beneficial to our clients and their children. Our skilled Wheaton lawyers for parenting time and parental responsibilities can help you fight for the most possible time with your children. Call 630-657-5052 for a free consultation. 




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