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Caretaking Functions Define Parental Responsibility in Illinois

Posted on in Child Custody

Caretaking Functions Define Parental Responsibility in IllinoisSince 2016, Illinois has used the term “allocation of parental responsibilities” instead of “child custody.” The name reflects that parenting after a divorce or separation is a shared responsibility, not just a determination of who gets to keep the kids. Each parent must fulfill his or her assigned responsibilities when the children are with him or her. If one parent is incapable or unwilling to assume those responsibilities, then a court may give sole responsibility to the other parent.

Caretaking Functions

Illinois’ Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has a list of parental responsibilities, which it calls “caretaking functions.” There are eight functions that parents are expected to provide for their children during their parenting time:

  1. Attending to a child’s nutrition, health, safety, and hygiene;
  2. Guiding a child through his or her maturation, such as developing motor and language skills;
  3. Teaching proper behavior and providing discipline;
  4. Ensuring that a child receives an education;
  5. Helping a child develop interpersonal skills;
  6. Taking a child to medical appointments;
  7. Instilling a sense of morality in the child; and
  8. Arranging for others to take care of the child when the parent is not available.

The caretaking functions do not include “significant decisions” related to the children’s education, health, religious beliefs, or extracurricular activities. Parents can make routine decisions when they have the children but must discuss major decisions with their co-parent unless it is an emergency situation.

Sole Responsibility

With the list of caretaking functions, Illinois law has set the expectations for healthy parenting. The state may deem a parent who cannot meet these needs as detrimental to a child’s wellbeing and development. The other parent may request sole responsibility for the children, which would give him or her most of the parenting time and the power to make significant decisions for the children. A family law court may grant sole responsibility if a parent:

  • Is incarcerated;
  • Has a history of abusive behavior;
  • Has a significant mental illness;
  • Has a history of drug or alcohol abuse; or
  • Is relocating and will be unable to visit the children regularly.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

When requesting sole responsibility for your children, you have the burden of proving why your co-parent should have limited responsibility. Citing the caretaking functions in Illinois law can explain how your co-parent is not fulfilling his or her responsibilities. A St. Charles, Illinois, family law attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you present a case for receiving greater parental responsibility. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


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