In 2016, Illinois did something brilliant – it removed the word “custody”‘ from its family law, codified in the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Instead of “custody” (legal and physical, sole and joint), Judges will now assign parental responsibility and parenting time to the parents. No more “Custody” battles!!! Instead, parents can litigate over “parental responsibility” and “parenting time”.
Illinois, I love you.
As a family law attorney for almost 20 years, I can’t tell you how ugly the word “custody” is to me. It sounds criminal: as in, the police held him in custody for further interrogation. And it is not a good word to describe both parents’ relationship to the child. It furthers the misconception that custody can be “won” like it’s a good thing in Court. It continues the fantasy that you can seek revenge in Court. And that you can use your children as revenge!
In California, in a separation with children, the default best interest of child is frequent and continuing contact with both parents. Over the years, people have fought over who has “custody” and who has “visitation”. People equate “visitation” as the ugly step-sister, even though visitation IS physical custody. It’s just too confusing and engenders bitterness.
Here is the new custody law in Illinois, all written out. I love it. I want to rap to it.
(750 ILCS 5/602.5)
Allocation of parental responsibilities: decision-making.
(a) Generally. The court shall allocate decision-making responsibilities according to the child's best interests. Nothing in this Act requires that each parent be allocated decision-making responsibilities.
(b) Allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities. Unless the parents otherwise agree in writing on an allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities, or the issue of the allocation of parental responsibilities has been reserved under Section 401, the court shall make the determination. The court shall allocate to one or both of the parents the significant decision-making responsibility for each significant issue affecting the child. Those significant issues shall include, without limitation, the following:
(1) Education, including the choice of schools and
(2) Health, including all decisions relating to the
(3) Religion, subject to the following provisions:
(A) The court shall allocate decision-making
(B) The court shall consider evidence of the
(C) The court shall not allocate any aspect of
(4) Extracurricular activities.
(c) Determination of child's best interests. In determining the child's best interests for purposes of allocating significant decision-making responsibilities, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, without limitation, the following:
(1) the wishes of the child, taking into account the
(2) the child's adjustment to his or her home,
(3) the mental and physical health of all individuals
(4) the ability of the parents to cooperate to make
(5) the level of each parent's participation in past
(6) any prior agreement or course of conduct between
(7) the wishes of the parents;
(8) the child's needs;
(9) the distance between the parents' residences, the
(10) whether a restriction on decision-making is
(11) the willingness and ability of each parent to
(12) the physical violence or threat of physical
(13) the occurrence of abuse against the child or
(14) whether one of the parents is a sex offender,
(15) any other factor that the court expressly finds
(d) A parent shall have sole responsibility for making routine decisions with respect to the child and for emergency decisions affecting the child's health and safety during that parent's parenting time.
(e) In allocating significant decision-making responsibilities, the court shall not consider conduct of a parent that does not affect that parent's relationship to the child.
(Source: P.A. 99-90, eff. 1-1-16