970 McHenry Avenue, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC

Call Today for Your FREE Consultation

Call Us800-338-3833 | 815-338-3838

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in parenting time

Why Illinois Uses ‘Allocation of Parental Responsibilities’ Instead of ‘Child Custody’In 2016, Illinois made major changes to its law regarding parents who have divorced or separated. The term “child custody” was replaced with “the allocation of parental responsibilities,” and “visitation” was replaced with “parenting time.” These were more than simply new names for legal terms. They represented a new approach to co-parenting that the state hoped would be better for children. This summer will mark the five-year anniversary of the bill that created these changes being signed into law – making it a good time to revisit what these terms mean and what they are trying to accomplish.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Child custody is a common term in family law statutes across the country and in popular vernacular. In Illinois, the law at one time granted sole or joint custody of the children following a divorce or separation. Illinois changed its laws so it is assumed that both parents will share responsibility for the children, including:

  • Dividing parenting time in a way that is best for the children
  • Determining how the parents will raise the children
  • Defining what decision-making power each parent has and when they must get the other parent’s consent

The word “custody” is often associated with one parent having primary control over the children. Illinois changed the term to “the allocation of parental responsibilities” because it better describes how each parent has rights and responsibilities and an important role in continuing to raise the children. “Custody” is now used to describe when a non-parent assumes responsibility for a child.


Including Phone Conversations in Your Parenting PlanEach parent’s scheduled time with their children after divorce should not be interrupted by the other parent unless necessary. In some cases, a phone conversation or texting with the children may be appropriate. However, there are situations where these forms of communication may disrupt the existing parenting time schedule. Extensive phone conversations between a parent and child can be included in a parenting schedule to ensure that both parents agree on whether it is appropriate.

When Are Phone Conversations Appropriate?

Some children have trouble adjusting to a two-household living arrangement because it is their first time being away from either parent for an extended period. They may initially benefit from phone calls with the nonresidential parent, though you should ween them off of these calls so that they do not become emotionally dependent on them. There are other situations in which a phone call that is longer than a couple of minutes may be appropriate:

  • When a parent lives a long distance from their children, regular phone calls may be part of their parenting time because it is impractical for them to frequently see each other in person;
  • A phone conversation could also be a substitute for parenting time if the children are on a trip and missing their normal parenting time; and
  • Children should be able to talk to their nonresidential parent in special situations when they have news that they want the other parent to immediately know about.

When Are Phone Conversations Not Appropriate?

Frequent communications or long conversations with a child can aggravate the parent who has the children. You should not interrupt your children’s time with the other parent unless there is an urgent issue that cannot wait until you see them again. Even sending periodic texts to check up on your children is disruptive.


Illinois Fathers Near Bottom Nationally in Parenting TimeFathers’ rights advocates and some Illinois lawmakers are pushing for 50-50 parenting time to become the default when parents divorce or separate. Illinois law currently presumes that it is in a child’s best interest to spend a majority of the time with one parent unless proven otherwise. Fathers claim that this puts them at a disadvantage in receiving parenting time because mothers are more likely to have a majority of parenting time. A recent study by the child custody scheduling service Custody X Change seems to support the argument. The results ranked Illinois fathers as having one of the lowest percentages of parenting time amongst all of the U.S. states.

Study Findings

Custody X Change surveyed family law attorneys in the most populous county in each state to determine what the most common parenting plan is for that state. Researchers used cases with no extenuating circumstances, such as a long distance between the parents or legal limitations on parental rights. The study concluded that:


Four Facts Fathers Should Know During DivorceFathers often start at a disadvantage when trying to obtain a majority of the parenting time during a divorce. There is a lingering societal assumption that mothers are the caregivers, and some believe that the bias affects the courts' decisions. However, it is a father’s resignation towards a negative outcome that hurts him the most. Assuming that a court will rule against him, a father may cede a majority of the allocation of parental responsibilities without a fight. A father must base his decisions on what is best for his children, not what he believes a court will decide. There are four facts fathers should understand during a divorce:

  1. The Law Has No Gender Bias: The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act does not differentiate between mothers and fathers. The law assumes that both parents will share responsibility for their children, unless one of the parents is unfit. It is left to the parents to define their individual roles with the children.
  2. Equal Parenting Time Is Not Preferred: Illinois believes that a child is better off living with one parent a majority of the time because it creates more stability. The primary caregiver, which could be either parent, usually receives a majority of the parenting time. However, the court will also consider which parent will provide a better living environment, which may not be the primary caregiver.
  3. There Are Several Ways to Split Parenting Time: A court may allow a 50/50 share of parenting time if the parents show the arrangement would benefit a child with minimal drawbacks. If the court decides to grant the mother a majority of the parenting time, the father can still try to maximize his parenting time. A 60/40 parenting time split can give a father an extra day with his children, as opposed to a more traditional 70/30 split.
  4. Children Benefit From Being With Their Father: Numerous studies have shown that children grow up happier and more well-adjusted when they have a relationship with both parents. Even if he is not the primary caregiver, a father can provide wisdom and emotional support that helps a child mature into a better adult.

A Father’s Rights

As a father, you should enter your divorce knowing whether you want to have a majority of the parenting time with your children. If you do, you can expect that the mother will contest you. A McHenry County divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, will help you show why your children are best off with you as the primary parent. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

Crafting a Long-Distance Parenting PlanIf a divorced parent decides to move, he or she can petition to relocate with the child. The court's decision will result in either allowing the child to relocate with one parent or ordering that the child cannot be relocated, even if it means the child will live with the other parent. No matter which parent the child lives with, the parent's relocation alters the existing parenting plan. The parents must return to court to modify the allocation of parental responsibilities, which includes parenting time and decision making. A long-distance parenting plan requires careful consideration of how parental responsibilities are divided and the complexities of travel.

Parenting Time

When divorced parents live near each other, they can each have regular parenting time with their children. Illinois prefers that the children primarily live with one parent, but the other parent may be able to schedule frequent visits. With long-distance parenting plans, parents need to arrange less-regular visits and/or identify times during the year when the children can visit the distant parent for an extended period, such as school breaks and holidays. Though the agreement maintains the distant parent's rights, he or she will likely have a reduced share of parenting time because:

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
Back to Top