If 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.
The 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” and “Visitation.”
Starting on January 1st, parents in Illinois (and their lawyers) have to start thinking about his all differently. Now the court will have nothing 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, and Narcissists);
(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. More details coming daily – so follow along.