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Changes to Illinois Child Custody Laws

Posted on in Child Custody

child-custodyAs our society progresses, our laws need to change to reflect these changes. Decades ago, Illinois' divorce and child custody laws included a provision known as the tender years doctrine, which awarded custody of young children primarily to their mothers on the basis that a mother could care for a young child better than a father could. This was done away with as gender roles changed and the court recognized that fathers can be as capable of caring for their children as mothers. Similar changes are coming to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act come January 1st, 2016 through Senate Bill 57.

These changes include many new developments to Illinois' child custody laws. In fact, one of these changes is the deletion of the term “custody.” To learn more about the changes that are coming and what they could mean for you and your family law case, contact an experienced Illinois family attorney for guidance.

New Terms Replace Old Terms

Gone are the antiquated terms “custody” and “visitation” because of their connotations of one parent “winning” a child in a divorce. Instead of determining physical and legal custody of a child according to the list of factors included in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the court will not allocate specific responsibilities and blocks of parenting time to both of a child's parents. These responsibilities might include responsibility for a child's religious upbringing, decisions about his or her medical care, and decisions about the child's education. The term “parenting time” will be used in place of “visitation” and “custody.”

How the Court Will Make its Determinations

The court will still consider a list of factors when determining the parental responsibilities and parenting time schedules it creates for divorcing Illinois couples. These factors are somewhat similar to those listed in the old Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, with a focus on what is best for a couple's child. As was the case previously, a child's preference will only be considered if the child can demonstrate that he or she is of an appropriate age and maturity level to make a sound, logical decision about where he or she would like to live.

Although the goal of these changes is to give both parents of a child a more equal distribution of parenting responsibilities and time with the child, the court still reserves the right to determine if one or both of the parents poses harm to the child and restrict his or her access to the child accordingly.

Kane County Child Custody Attorneys

Starting January 1, 2016, divorcing couples in Illinois will be subject to a new set of rules about parenting after divorce. To get a better handle on these changes and how they could affect your divorce, contact our team of experienced Kane County family and divorce attorneys at Goostree Law Group today to schedule your free legal consultation with our firm.




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