you're in the midst of a divorce involving minor children, or you're considering a divorce in the near future, things are
changing significantly in Illinois. Custody has been the problem word in Illinois for many years, because the term appears
to mean "possession" meaning who has the child and when; legal practitioners know it doesn't mean that.
Custody is mostly used in the legal arena to define who can make key life's
decision about a child. So the term "Joint Custody" never meant that both parents would have equal time with
the child, rather it only meant that both parents had to cooperate in making key decision affecting the child's educational,
health, and religious decisions.
time that a parent spent with his or her child was always called "visitation"
which has negative connotations, and the good news is that this is all changing. Gone are the terms "Custody"
on January 1st, parents in Illinois (and their
lawyers) have to start thinking about his all differently. Now the court will have nothing to do with the word custody,
but rather decide upon the "Allocation of Parental Responsibilities." This would include what the law defines
as significant decision responsibilities (a lot like the old custody decisions), and "Parenting Time" (a lot like
the old visitation).
To speed things
along, gone is the requirement of making a custody decision within 18 months, now parents must get this all done within 120
days (4 months).
How does this
affect your divorce:
(1) the new law will likely not cut
down on litigation, because by and large the big issues will remain big issues, they're just called something different;
(2) cutting down the time limit by which to do get a custody decision done
will only hurt parents that are married to people with significant psychological issues (no time for a full psychiatric custody
evaluation, leaving an untrained Guardian Ad Litem at the mercy of very likable parents with Borderline Personality Disorders,
(3) the new law will hopefully cut out those
parents seeking more time with the children only to avoid paying support, as the right of first refusal is now provided by
statute, and if your spouse leaves the care to someone else, you can step in and argue for the child back; and
(4) you can now enforce that the other parent visit with the child, which
has been unavailable previously to "custodial" parents and when the other parent would never show up for visitation.
So, parents that have a parenting plan, will now have to seek a schedule that they can actually abide by.
In all these are big changes, and I'm only mentioning a few here in this article. Feel
free to contact me for more information.