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Understanding Child Custody and the New Changes Coming in 2016

Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorney, child custodyCurrently, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”) determines the factors the court considers when deciding the best interests of the child during child custody disputes. As the law stands today, the court issues physical and/or legal custody to a single parent or both parents. These categories are commonly referred to as joint or sole custody. Essentially, if the parents do not cooperate, one parent will be granted custody and the other will be granted visitation, creating a winner/loser scenario.

The IMDMA directs the court to consider certain factors when evaluating the best interests of the child at issue in the child custody proceedings. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Wishes of the child;

  • Wishes of the parents;

  • Status of familial relationships;

  • Impact, if any, of a change of residence;

  • Mental and/or physical state of all parties involved in the proceedings;

  • Actual or anticipated violence or threats of violence;

  • Direct or indirect presence of abuse;

  • Willingness of each parent to foster a bond with the child and commitment to allow the child to foster a bond with the other parent;

  • Status of any parent registered as a sex offender; and

  • Any family plans for deployed military personnel.

Changes to Child Custody as Created by Senate Bill 57

Senate Bill 57 was signed into law in July 2015 and will go into effect on January 1, 2016. The law completely overhauls many aspects of the IMDMA, including child custody. Under the new law, the old way of determining sole or joint custody is demolished. When determining parental custody of the child, the court is required to allocate parental responsibilities. Although the court still considers factors discussed above when evaluating the best interests of the child, the court is required to consider other factors, including:

  • The amount of cooperation between both parents;

  • The amount of participation and involvement each parent has had in the child’s life;

  • Wishes of the child; and

  • Transportation and distance-related issues.

The most important aspect of the Senate Bill 57 is that parents will be allocated parental responsibilities, in an effort to equalize the amount of time each parent spends with the child. This prevents one parent from spending a ton of time with the child, while the other parent spends minimal amounts of time with the child, as under the current system. The new system levels the playing field for both parents because children will benefit from having an equal amount of parenting time with both parents.

Consult an Attorney 

If you have child custody issues and are concerned whether or not the new law will impact your parental rights, you should contact experienced DuPage County family law attorneys who will be able to advise you of the effect the new law has on your situation and assist you in alleviating your child custody concerns.

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