Helping Illinois parents navigate the new Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Statute

Chicago Family Law Attorney

Chicago and Northbrook attorneys work to serve your best interests and your children’s

The solemn responsibility of parents to protect their offspring’s best interests can be severely tested when parents, whether child custodymarried or not, dissolve their relationship. The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. helps you preserve your right to raise and protect your children and, in so doing, helps protect their rights as well.

Types of allocation of parental responsibilities

When a relationship split such as divorce arises, the court examines the allocation of parental responsibilities and what will meet the best interests of the children.

The court will examine the child’s right to adequate personal care, including clothing, well-being, school transportation and living environment when making a determination of the child’s primary residence. The court will also examine the parents’ rights and abilities to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including religious training, education and healthcare when making a determination of legal custody.

Factors the judge considers when making an allocation of parental rights

The court deliberates on the assumption that the maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents is in the best interest of the child’s physical, mental, moral and emotional well-being. This does not necessarily mean the courts assume allocation of parental responsibilities is the best way to achieve these objectives.

The courts will consider a multitude of factors, including:

  • Whether there are other children involved
  • The relationships between the child and the parents, siblings and any other person who may significantly further the child’s best interests, such as a grandparent
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
  • The wishes of the child and of each parent
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • Whether each potential custodian presents a threat of physical violence against either the child or another person

The parents are under scrutiny

The judge will of course look at each parent’s living arrangement and financial situation. These influence not just the allocation of parental rights but child support.

The judge is also likely to be sensitive to parental alienation. This is a common problem in allocation of parental responsibilities disputes and may involve the following inappropriate behaviors:

  • Attempts to discredit the other parent and turn the child against that parent
  • Repeated interference with the other parenting time, either by preventing the child from making scheduled phone calls or cutting into the other parenting time
  • Outright refusal to cooperate with the parenting schedule

In the case of divorce, the original award of parental decision making is partially based on the judge’s assessment of whether each parent is willing and able to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.

Do I need to let a divorce judge decide what’s best for my child?

You may be able to achieve divorce through negotiation or mediation. This would entail you and your spouse arriving at a mutual allocation of parental responsibilities arrangement — and parenting plan — on your own.

But the court would still need to review the arrangement you work out (as well as other terms of your divorce) before your divorce could be approved.

The process is as follows:

  • Within 120 days of filling any petition for allocation of parenting responsibilities, all parents must file, jointly or separately, a proposed parenting plan. The time frame may be extended by the court if good cause is shown.
  • If not parenting plan is filed, the court will conduct an evidentiary hearing in order to allocate parental responsibilities.
  • The court shall order mediation to assist the parents in forming or changing a parenting plan, or putting a plan in action unless the court determines that there is an impediment to mediation.

Will a social worker or guardian ad litem need to investigate both parents?

If your efforts to negotiate allocation of parental responsibilities are not working, either party may request the court to appoint a guardian ad litem in your case. The guardian ad litem is an advocate for the child’s best interests and may make a visit to each party‘s home, interview the child’s teachers, access school and medical records and interview grandparents or others familiar with the child before filing a report with the court.

Alternatively, the judge may require you both to submit to an investigation by county social workers, who will report on your respective parenting abilities and how conducive your respective homes are to the well-being of children.

How can I obtain a majority of my child’s parenting time?

As noted, Illinois law instructs courts to presume that the maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents will best serve the child’s physical and emotional well-being. But there are circumstances where the court will decide on a disproportionate allocation of parenting time.

Do you help parents resolve paternity issues?

Yes. Both the father and mother have the right to challenge whether the father is in fact the natural father of the child. We help resolve paternity rights, but be aware that once paternity has been established, either by the court or by the parents, it is very difficult to undo.

What about grandparents’ rights?

Under certain circumstances, grandparents and siblings have the right to petition for visitation. Indeed, Illinois family court judges have allowed children to continue to reside with a grandparent when the grandparent has been the primary caregiver for an extended period of time.

Make sure your rights and your child’s future are protected in parental allocation proceedings.

Don’t let yourself be deprived of your child. Consult with an experienced  attorney and get help. The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman has fought vigorously for the rights of parents for more than 25 years. Call us at 847.897.5288 or contact us online to put a knowledgeable, trial-tested lawyer in your corner.

Serving families in Chicago, Northbrook, Lake County and Cook County.