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How Illinois Courts Decide Parental Responsibility and Parenting Time

Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorney parenting plan

Several years ago, Illinois enacted considerable changes to the way child custody is allocated to divorced or unmarried parents. The terms child custody and visitation have been replaced by “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” respectively. This change is intended to represent parenting authority as a spectrum instead of an either-or situation in which one parent is the custodial parent and the other parent only receives visitation. If you are planning to divorce, you and your spouse may design whatever type of parenting arrangement you see fit. However, if you cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will determine a plan for you. In order to do so, the court will consider the best interests of the child.  

What Does “Best Interests” Mean?

If there is a dispute about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, Illinois courts use a series of factors called “best interest factors” to determine what type of parenting arrangement would be best for the child. The best interest factors the court considers when allocating decision-making authority include but are not limited to:

  • Each parent’s wishes regarding parenting arrangements

  • The health of the parents

  • Each parent’s past involvement with the child

  • The child’s wishes regarding parenting arrangements

  • How well-adjusted the child is to his or her current school and community

  • The distance between the parents’ homes and the difficulty of transporting the child

  • Any past instances of abuse or domestic violence

  • Each parent’s ability to facilitate a positive relationship between the child and the other parent

The best interest factors for determining parenting time are slightly different. When deciding a parenting time schedule, Illinois courts consider factors such as:

  • The wishes of the parents and the child

  • How much time each parent has spent directly caring for the child in the past two years

  • Prior agreements about caretaking functions

  • Whether a restriction on a parent’s parenting time is needed to protect the child’s well-being

  • Each parent’s ability to put the child’s needs above his or her own

  • Whether there have been past instances of abuse or either parent is a sex offender

Contact a Burr Ridge Child Custody Lawyer

Disagreements about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time can become complicated, contentious, and complex. At Botti Marinaccio, LTD., we help divorcing parents negotiate child custody issues and create parenting plans that serve their child’s best interests. If parents cannot reach an agreement about parental responsibilities and parenting time outside of court, we are also prepared to advocate on our clients’ behalf in court. To learn more, call our office today at 630-575-8585 to schedule a confidential, personalized consultation with a highly qualified Cook County divorce attorney from our firm.


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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.


2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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