A divorce is hard under the best of circumstances, especially when children are involved. Many times, disputes over parental rights and responsibilities can resemble all-out, head-to-head battles, with each parent fighting tooth and nail for their own individual interests: Maximum child custody, maximum parenting time (visitation), all at the expense of the other parent. In addition, there is frequently a large dose of resentment and ill will added in. What is all too often undervalued in this scenario is the one factor that the courts will ultimately use most to decide the final parenting plan: What is best for the children?
The Evolution of Illinois Divorce Law
Fortunately, here in Illinois, recent years have seen a great deal of evolution in divorce law to improve how parenting plans are decided and carried out in daily life. Over time, “child custody” has become the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Where questions of sole or joint custody once prevailed, present-day Illinois law now anticipates that both parents will participate in caring for the children, jointly negotiating a plan that specifies the respective rights and authority each has over their children. In particular, decisions about children’s education, medical treatment, religion, and other major facets of their lives now need to be allocated by consensus between the parents, in whatever proportions they agree to.
Likewise, what used to be called “visitation” is now known as “parenting time”—a more accurate and meaningful designation. Here again, the many components of the child’s daily life, such as their morning and nighttime routines, schooling, and homework now fall under the category of “care-taking functions.” These essential responsibilities also need to be negotiated by the parents. All of these agreements are expected to be reached with the child’s best interests as the primary consideration.
Criteria of the Child’s Best Interests
One instance where this concern for the child’s welfare shows up quite clearly is the desire by one of the parents to relocate with a child. In a case like this, there is a lot of potential for emotional distress and other kinds of disruption to the child, in addition to the undermining of the fair allocation of parental responsibilities for the other parent. In the state of Illinois, before such a move can take place, a judge has to determine that it actually reflects the best interests of the child.
In fact, as of 2016, the law mandates 11 different factors for the family court to consider when deciding on a potential child relocation. These include the reasons the one parent wants to relocate, the reasons the other parent objects, how the child would be affected by the relocation, and whether the circumstances of the relocation would leave the other parent with enough parenting time with the child. All of this illustrates just how highly the law regards a child’s best interests both during and after a divorce—and how critical it is to bring thoughtful, persuasive arguments to the court, whichever side of the issues you are on.
Contact a Naperville Parenting Plan Attorney
Protecting your children during a contentious divorce is not easy. At Calabrese Associates, PC, we share your passion for safeguarding your children’s best interests in every way possible. In addition, our skilled DuPage County parenting plan lawyers are laser-focused on preserving the integrity of your rights as a parent. As a highly experienced and knowledgeable family law firm for more than 20 years, we can help you with all of your child custody concerns, whether they involve conference room negotiation or courtroom litigation. Call 630-393-3111 today to schedule a reasonably priced consultation of 90 minutes or more to discuss your own unique situation.