The word custody has been replaced by the legislature with the new concept of allocation of parental responsibilities. It’s probably a better description of the process that we actually undergo. We determine how the important significant decisions for kids are going to be made. The word visitation has been replaced in the statute with the concept of parenting time; it’s probably also a better description of what actually happens.
It’s still the same basic concept, and that is, how are we going to make these significant decisions for the kids? The day-to-day issues have always been more straight-forward, including what color shirt is the youngster going to wear, what are they going to have for lunch, and whether they can have a friend play over at their house after school. Those types of day-to-day decisions are routinely made by the parent who’s exercising parenting time at the time of the decision. It’s the significant decisions that have led to more substantial problems over the years, and those significant decisions fall into three principal categories, which is health care, education, and religious decisions.
A Guardian ad Litem is appointed by the court to help the court determine what is in the best interest of children in situations where their parents are undergoing a transition. The children are best served by both parents having a voice in those important decisions, and the new terminology that’s been adopted embraces that concept very much. It’s a welcomed change, and although it’s still early in its application in Illinois, it seems that the new descriptions are being embraced and are doing good and substantial justice for the kids.
Chuck Roberts is family lawyer at Momkus McCluskey Roberts, LLC, one of the largest law firms in DuPage County, Illinois.