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Understanding family law terminology in Illinois

You have probably noticed how terminology in nearly every facet of life changes constantly, and you have to get used to new buzz words and phrases. This is also the case with the database of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, or ILCS.

With regard to the parenting functions that take place as the result of a divorce, Illinois no longer uses the traditional wording that you may associate with those functions. Newer terms are firmly in place in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Here is a brief guide:

  • Allocation of parental responsibilities: Wording such as “custody” or “child custody” had been used in normal discourse and in legal parlance for many years. The court used these words in making decisions as to which parent was given responsibility for a child after the parents’ divorce. The terminology has changed to “allocation of parental responsibilities,” the purpose of which is to identify the parent responsible for making decisions about the child’s upbringing.
  • Parenting plan: You may have heard this phrase, although it is relatively new to the jargon surrounding divorce and its aftermath. There are other new terms that are spinoffs from this one, such as the replacement for “visitation.”
  • Parenting time: “Visitation” has become “parenting time,” the obvious term referring to the block of time a parent spends with the child.
  • Caretaking functions: These are activities that include seeing that the child eats, sleeps, does homework, plays and goes to school, to the dentist, to soccer practice and so on.
  • Restriction of parenting time: This, of course, refers to any sort of limit on the block of time Mom or Dad spends with the child.

Becoming more informed

You may be trying to acclimate yourself to your parenting responsibilities following a divorce, and it is not an easy task. If you are struggling with this new chapter in your life, an attorney experienced with family law matters can assist—and at the same time, bring you up to speed on all the pertinent terminology in the ILCS database.

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