Ekker Law, P.C. / Steven B. Ekker, Esq.

How Are Parental Responsibilities Allocated in Illinois?

 Posted on December 04, 2020 in Divorce

Kane County family law attorney allocation of parental responsibilities

The allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody) can greatly impact the life of a child. Further, it can determine just how involved you are in the decision-making process of your child’s life. Whether you are an unmarried father who has recently established paternity or half of a couple going through a divorce, it is important for you to understand the allocation of parental responsibilities, including who may be eligible to pursue it and when.

What Is the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities?

The allocation of parental responsibilities can be broken down into two primary areas of concern: parenting time and significant decision-making authority for the child. Parenting time is the time that each parent spends with his or her child, while the decision-making authority pertains to the level of responsibility each parent has regarding important choices regarding the child’s life. For example, a parent with more decision-making authority may have the final say in where the child goes to school, or whether he or she attends church or not.

Although parenting time and the responsibility for decision making may coincide with one another, they do not always. In fact, some parents have more parenting time but less control over important decisions. Likewise, a parent may have more decision-making power but less parenting time. Each situation is unique, and the details are determined by considering the best interests of the child. How it is done depends greatly upon the marital status of the parents.

Unmarried Parents Versus Divorcing Parents

When parents go through a divorce, the allocation of parental responsibilities is generally determined during the divorce proceedings. Parents may agree upon a set level of decision-making for each party, can mediate to reach a compromise, or may have the determination made by the court. Regardless of the method, parenting time is also usually included in this process.

For parents who are unmarried, the process is slightly different. Fathers must first establish paternity before pursuing an allocation of parental responsibilities. Further, parenting time may or may not be included in this determination; the situation will depend greatly upon the current circumstances, and whether the father has already established a healthy relationship with the child. An attorney can help you better understand how to exercise your rights as an unmarried father.

Special Circumstances and the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Not all parents who pursue an allocation of parental responsibilities are the birth parents of a child. In fact, stepparents may also have the right to pursue such rights to the child. Instances in which this might happen could include the death or incapacitation of a natural parent. If you have questions about pursuing parental responsibilities as a stepparent, it is important to contact an experienced family law attorney for legal assistance.





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