Three Key Things To Keep In Mind About The Changes To Custody And Visitation In Illinois

On January 1, 2016, significant changes were made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). Many of those changes focused on the provisions dealing with custody and visitation of minor children. The following are 3 key things to know about the changes:

1) Custody is no Longer a Term: In Illinois, the term “custody” is no longer used. The Courts now refer to this as “allocation of parental responsibilities”. Generally, “custody” and “allocation of parental responsibilities” are one and the same. For instance, custody referred to the ability of one parent to make certain decisions for the minor child (ie: decisions related to religion, medical, and extracurricular activities). The terminology “allocation of parental responsibilities” refers to the same abilities. Now, one parent may have the responsibility for the child’s religious upbringing while the other may have the responsibility for the children’s medical related decisions. Additionally, the term “custody” generally provided for three options: (1) Sole Custody; (2) Joint Custody; and (3) Shared Custody. With the term “custody” no longer being utilized, these three terms are no longer used either.

2) Visitation is now Allocation of Parenting Time: Like the term “custody”, the term “visitation” is no longer used. Now, “visitation” is known as “allocation of parenting time”. Although the name has changed, the meaning remains the same. Allocation of parenting time refers to the time each parent spends with the child(ren). Many times it will remain the case that one parent is allocated more time than the other and that parent will receive child support from the parent allocated less parenting time.

3) Removal is now Relocation: “Removal” referred to a sole custodian’s ability to petition the court to remove a minor child from the state of Illinois. A sole custodian had the ability, unless their Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage specified otherwise, to move anywhere in the State of Illinois without asking the Court’s permission. If a parent wished to move outside of the State of Illinois, they had to seek leave of Court. Now, “relocation” provides that a parent may move up to twenty-five miles from their current residence (if they reside in certain counties, including Cook) without leave of Court. In certain counties, individuals may move up to 50 miles without leave of Court. This means that if a parent lives in Illinois and wishes to move to Indiana which is fifteen miles from their residence, they can do so without asking the Court. If a parent wishes to move more than twenty-five miles (or fifty miles depending on County of residence) from their residence, they need to seek leave of Court. Therefore, by example, if a parent lives in Chicago and wishes to move to Springfield, they are required to ask the Court’s permission as Springfield is greater than twenty-five/fifty miles from their current residence.

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