Transformation of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act: Removal of “Custody” for “Parental Responsibilities” - DuPage County Divorce Attorney | Bloomingdale Family Law Lawyers
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Transformation of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act: Removal of “Custody” for “Parental Responsibilities”

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b2ap3_thumbnail_parental-responsibility.jpgChild custody has been one of the sections of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that has changed throughout the last several decades. This is because gender roles and responsibilities have shifted, thereby shifting the conventional understanding that it is the mother’s responsibility to care for the children, and the father’s responsibility to support the family financially. Today, there is an increasing trend towards co-parenting, especially when a divorce has been issued; the emergence of stay-at-home dads and the studies that show that two parents is better than one have led to the revolution of the joint custody. No longer is it the presumption that it is in the best interest of the child to have his/her mother as the custodian, but studies have shown that a child is significantly less affected by the divorce and its impact when both parents remain active in the child’s life.

Move from Joint Custody to Co-Parenting Responsibilities and Decisionmaking

With the presumption of the single mother parent as the best custodian for the child being abandoned by the court system, the concept of co-parenting and joint custody has also mirrored the changes. In the updated IMDMA, it is no longer just about joint custody with the child’s time spliced between the two parents. The IMDMA supports that it is also about ensuring that parental responsibilities, time spent together, and the type of decisionmaking that occurs between the parents is divided better overall.

The Types of Caretaking Needed by Children

The IMDMA outlines the role of custodial parents in a section called “parental responsibilities” in lieu of the word “custody.” This section outlines the way in which the parents will be best able to raise the children. The section is broken up into how a child may be taken care of, for example, enumerating the functions of caretaking, such as:

  • The child’s nutritional and personal hygiene needs;
  • The child’s developmental needs, including maturation and language skills;
  • The child’s disciplinary needs and moral and ethical instruction;
  • The child’s schooling; and
  • The child’s interrelationship skills, usually ensuring that he/she is able to relate to family members, siblings, and peers, among others.

Parental Responsibilities: Decisionmaking

The IMDMA not only contemplates the types of needs that the child may require from both parents, but also dictates the parental responsibilities and decisionmaking methods. The IMDMA states that unless agreed to by the parents otherwise, it will be up to the court to determine which parent will be responsible for decisions regarding the following:

  • Education;
  • Health;
  • Religion; and
  • Extracurricular activities.

The court will generally assign the responsibility and decisionmaking to the parent who is best equipped to decide the appropriate action for the child. For example, if one of the parents is a doctor, than the court may believe he/she is in the best position to determine the medical decisions for the child. Whereas, if one of the parents has a significant relationship with a religion, he or she may be permitted to instruct the child in the religious practices, especially if the court believes this would be in the best interest of the child.

Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County
With the amendments made to the IMDMA, it may be confusing to know what exactly are your rights in a divorce. It is important to speak with the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices. Contact our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.


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