Custody Arrangements Are Out, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Are In


When I’m working with a client who is a parent, I often hear things like, “I want sole custody.” “How do I figure out child custody with my spouse?” and “If I request sole custody, what does that mean for my ex?”

While the term “custody” has been part of divorce language for a long time, it’s been eight years since the state of Illinois replaced custody arrangements with the allocation of parental responsibilities. Parental responsibilities include both parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities. As part of the 2016 updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and Illinois Parentage Act, this change was intended to prevent “all or nothing” situations, promote equity and foster joint decision making between parents.

When going through a divorce or parentage dispute, every person’s parenting situation requires a personalized approach. Regardless of your circumstances, here are five things to know about allocation of parental responsibilities over significant decision-making responsibilities:

  1. Allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities are made in four significant issues affecting your child:
    • Education: Includes decision-making around a child’s schooling, tutors, studies and academic endeavors
    • Health: Encompasses all decisions related to a child’s medical, dental, psychological and other healthcare needs
    • Religion: Considers the child’s religious upbringing and each parent’s past experiences and affiliations with religion
    • Extracurricular activities: Refers to all activities and interests outside of a standard education, including sports, organized hobbies, clubs and community service
    • Within each of the four significant issues, parents will either have sole decision-making authority or share the authority with the other parent.
  2. Sole decision-making authority in one or more of the four significant issues does not mean the other parent is completely out of the loop. If one parent is allocated sole decision-making responsibility for a child’s education, that parent still has a duty to keep the other parent informed and updated about the child’s life in that area.
  3. The allocation of parental responsibilities process varies from county to county in Illinois. Most counties require the parents to attend mediation with respect to this aspect of their case with certain counties offering a free court mediation program. Your attorney can help you understand your county’s rules and the best path forward.
  4. If parents are unable to work together and agree on these parental responsibilities—independently or with the help of a mediator or attorneys—the court will intervene and make these parental responsibility decisions based on the best interests of the child.
  5. In addition to parental responsibilities regarding significant decision-making responsibilities, a parenting schedule is required as part of the final plan. You can read more about determining a schedule and how it impacts child support in my colleague Leo’s blog.

Let Me Help You Reach Your Parenting Goals

I was drawn to family law at an early age after experiencing divorce firsthand. I am incredibly passionate about helping people with children work through parenting decisions that meet their goals and best serve their child and family.

I welcome the chance to meet with you virtually or at our new office at the Davis Center in Evanston, or at our offices in Chicago, Lake Forest or Oak Brook. Please reach out today by requesting a free consultation or calling us at (847)-868-9584.

Schedule time with Shay

For a free consultation, call Stern Perkoski Mendez at (847) 868-9584 or contact us.