Many divorcing parents find the prospect of splitting time with their children to be frustrating and difficult. Oftentimes, parents get a divorce in the first place because they differ so significantly on how they believe children should be raised. Even with the best intentions, sharing parenting time and parental responsibilities is a daunting task.
When parents first begin the divorce process, they will likely encounter some terms that are unique to them - especially because Illinois no longer uses the term “custody,” but rather “parenting time” (formerly visitation) and “parental responsibilities” (formerly custody). While parenting time is fairly straightforward, the term parental responsibilities means significant decision-making responsibilities; but what exactly are those? To find out, read on.
What are Significant Decisions?
Illinois law defines “significant decisions” as those related to issues involving long-term importance to the life of the child. Although these can change slightly depending on the circumstances, the most common of these issues are:
Education - This includes how and where a child will be educated, including decisions about tutoring, test-taking, and college preparation courses.
Healthcare - This includes which health specialists a child will see, including long-term treatment like occupational therapy or nutritional counseling.
Religious observance - This includes which religion a child will be raised in, if any, and how religiously observant a child will be.
Extracurricular activities - This usually includes sports teams, after school activities, music lessons, and any other personal development programs a child might enroll in.
What is Decision-Making Authority?
In a best-case scenario, parents divide decision-making authority in a way that makes sense for their family. If one parent is religious and places importance on their child’s religious upbringing, perhaps that parent will have decision-making authority in that area while the other parent makes decisions about extracurricular activities. Parents may also share decision-making authority in all areas.
However, if parents cannot agree about an arrangement, a court may make the decision for them. Parents are not likely to be entirely satisfied with a court arrangement, which is why using alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation are often encouraged and even required during divorce.
Call a Wheaton Family Law Attorney for Help
Understanding your parenting plan and the legal terms Illinois courts use is crucial for having a successful co-parenting relationship with your ex. If you are getting divorced and have questions about what that means for you, call an experienced DuPage County family law attorney with Andrew Cores Family Law Group. We offer free, confidential consultations so you can start getting the help you need. Call us at 630-871-1002 to schedule yours today.