In Illinois, there is a set process for determining parental responsibilities with clear definitions of what they entail. While there is no rule that courts must allocate parental responsibilities to both divorced parents, many parents come to an agreement to share these responsibilities and the court approves their agreement.
Defining parental responsibilities
In matters of the custody of a child, in Illinois, parental responsibilities include everything related to parenting time as well as having decision making power over the important aspects of a child’s life. These legal custody aspects include:
- Health and child-care needs
- Educational choices
- Religious upbringing
Determining parental responsibilities
As with other custody matters, allocating parental responsibilities is based on what the court determines is the best interests of the child. During this process, the court will consider a group of factors that can affect a child’s life, including:
- The child’s and the parents’ mental and physical health
- The child’s wishes, if they are old enough, about the issues affecting their life
- The parent’s relationship and their ability to work together to make decisions about and raise their child
- Each parent’s history of encouraging the development of the relationship between the child and the other parent
- The location of each parent’s residence in relation to the child’s school, childcare facility and extracurricular activities
- The way the child feels in and has adapted to each parent’s environment
Additionally, courts will also consider how involved a parent has been in the past in making important decisions about their child’s life as well as any allegations or history of physical or sexual abuse. In seeking to allocate parental responsibilities, the court wants to ensure that the child can continue to grow in a safe, stable, caring environment. In some cases, this means that only one parent will satisfy the court’s view of the best interests of the child while in others, the court will allocate the responsibilities to both parents.