Attorney Eric D. Puryear

New Custody (Parental Decision-Making) and Visitation (Parenting Time) Terminology in Illinois Divorce and Child Custody Cases

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Illinois Family Law » New Custody (Parental Decision-Making) and Visitation (Parenting Time) Terminology in Illinois Divorce and Child Custody Cases

The new laws in Illinois that govern divorce and child custody cases took effect on January 1, 2016.  These changes in terminology are a reflection of the goals of the court in custody and divorce case.


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Parental Decision-Making is now the term in Illinois divorce and custody cases for what was called “legal custody” in years past.  However, the new term is a bit broader as it can encompass decisions that would previously have been made by the “custodial” parent.

Parenting Time is the new Illinois term for “physical care” and “visitation.”  Since each parent now has some amount of “parenting time” it is hoped by the drafters of the new Illinois custody terminology that some of the contention over being called the “primary custodial parent” or having only “visitation” can be avoided.

The changes to Illinois’ law is more than just using new words.  For example, the new Illinois approach of allocating parental decision-making can provide for greater division and sharing of parental duties than was common under the old system.  This can mean that a parent who has less time with child may be more included in the parental decision-making process.


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Child support in Illinois continues to be set based upon where the child spends time.  Cases where a child spends about half of his or her time with each parent will generally result in no child support being paid, while cases where one person primary has the child will generally result in that parent receiving child support from the other parent.


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