Tag Archives: allocation of parental responsibilities

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.

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Calling Character Witnesses During a Parenting CaseYou are most likely to use a subpoena during your divorce when you need your spouse to turn over important documents related to your marital finances. Using subpoenas on potential witnesses has become less common in Illinois since the state made all divorces no-fault cases. When spouses needed to prove fault in a divorce, they called on character witnesses to support claims of infidelity or immorality. Character witnesses can still be useful during a divorce when you are trying to establish the allocation of parental responsibilities.

What Witnesses Provide

You may be concerned about leaving your children alone with your spouse if he or she can be irresponsible or abusive. However, a court may believe your own testimony on the subject to be biased because you could benefit from portraying your spouse as an unfit parent. A third-party witness would support your claims by testifying that he or she saw your spouse:

  • Act recklessly or abusively with your children;
  • Regularly fail to fulfill his or her parental duties; or
  • Expose your children to unhealthy situations.

Identifying Witnesses

A witness in a parenting dispute should be someone who sees your children regularly, but a court may view testimony from a family member or close friend as being biased towards you. Ideally, you would find a witness who does not have a personal connection to you, such as a neighbor, teacher, coach, or babysitter. This person’s only concern should be towards what is best for your children.

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Presenting Evidence of Child Abuse by Co-ParentYou must act decisively to protect your child if you suspect that your co-parent is abusing your child or allowing someone else to abuse him or her. It may be necessary for you to take sole responsibility for your child until your co-parent can show that your child will be safe around him or her. However, a family court will not take away all of your co-parent’s rights and responsibilities unless you can provide convincing evidence of the abuse. You must establish that the abuse is occurring, that your co-parent is responsible, and that giving you sole responsibility for your child is in his or her best interest:

  1. Physical Evidence: You may suspect child abuse if your child is injured after returning from a visit with your co-parent. Your child may be afraid to tell you that your co-parent caused the injury, but you should be suspicious if your child cannot give a plausible explanation for the injury. If you believe your co-parent is responsible for the abuse, you should document it by taking pictures of visible injuries and visiting your child’s pediatrician.
  2. Child Behavior: Children experiencing physical or emotional abuse often show they are upset by behaving differently. Your child may react to the abuse by behaving violently, becoming withdrawn, regressing emotionally, or showing an unusual interest in topics such as sex. A child therapist can identify whether your child’s behavior may be linked to abuse.
  3. Witnesses: You should ask family members, neighbors and other people around your children whether they have seen your co-parent behave abusively towards your child. Witnesses may not have seen the actual abuse, but they can testify that they saw your co-parent behaving aggressively or inappropriately towards your child. Be aware that some people will feel uncomfortable testifying against your co-parent if they have a close relationship with him or her.
  4. Character Background: Your co-parent may have a history of abusive or violent behavior that makes your child abuse claim more plausible. You should present your co-parent’s criminal record to the court and recount your own relationship with him or her.

Parenting Battle

In order to obtain sole responsibility for your children, you must prove your parental fitness as well as your co-parent’s unfitness. The court must believe that your children will be safe and cared for with you as their only parent. A Kane County family law attorney at Goostree Law Group can explain why giving you sole parental responsibilities is in the best interest of your children. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Divorcing Parents Disagree on Jurisdiction in International CaseDetermining which state’s court has jurisdiction in a divorce case is tricky when the spouses reside in separate states. State jurisdiction is particularly important when deciding the allocation of parental responsibilities because the parent living in that state has an advantage in receiving a majority share of parenting time. Courts use the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to determine state jurisdiction, which favors the child’s home state. However, parents often debate which state is a child’s home.

Recent Case

The home state in a child custody case can also include states or provinces in other countries. In the case of In re Marriage of Milne, a divorcing father residing in Canada argued that Ontario should have jurisdiction in their case instead of Illinois. The spouses had met and married while living in Illinois. The husband adopted the wife’s child from a previous marriage, and the couple later had their own child. The family relocated to Canada in August 2015, after which:

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Redefining Winning in a DivorceThe divorce process is designed so that neither side will have a complete victory over the other. You will not keep every property that you owned during your marriage. If you are making more money than your spouse, you may be required to pay spousal maintenance as compensation. Unless there are unusual circumstances, you will be dividing your parenting time with your children. If you measure winning in absolute terms, then there are no winners in a divorce. However, redefining winning can help you feel that your divorce was successful:

  1. Winning with Realistic Goals: You should start your divorce negotiations with goals that you want to achieve. Identify marital properties that are priorities for you to retain. Understand what an acceptable allocation of parental responsibilities would be. Determine the value of the financial assets you will need for short-term financial stability and long-term prosperity. You will lose some marital properties to your spouse. Instead of losses, think of them as assets you are trading in order to retain other assets you value more.
  2. Winning with an Amicable Divorce: Spouses in a high-conflict divorce can feel defeated after the process is over. Negotiations often end in litigation, which is both time-consuming and expensive. You are more likely to be satisfied if you reach an amicable divorce agreement that does not require court intervention. Through compromise, you feel more in control of your agreement and less bitter about the outcome. The process will also be quicker and less costly.
  3. Winning for Your Children: Children are unlikely to feel that they are winning anything after their parents have divorced. The outcome will always be a divided family and disruption to their lives. When negotiating your divorce, you can decide that your children should benefit more from your agreement than anyone else. They should have enough time with each of you to maintain a healthy relationship. The parenting schedule should minimize disruptions to the children’s lives. You should meet all of your children’s financial needs through child support.
  4. Winning a New Life: Remember that the reason you are getting a divorce is so you can get out of an unhappy marriage and find fulfillment elsewhere. Short-term sacrifices are part of the price of achieving long-term happiness. Your divorce was successful if you were able to get a fresh start with enough resources to support yourself.

Your Victory

Your expectations during your divorce will determine whether you feel you have won or lost after it is over. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you define what is a successful divorce for you. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174

 630-584-4800

 1770 Park Street, Suite 205
Naperville IL 60563

 630-364-4046

 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187

 630-407-1777

Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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