Allocation of parental responsibilities

In Illinois, allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly called custody) establishes how decision-making responsibilities for the children are assigned. Generally, there are four types of major decisions: medical, education, religion, and extracurriculars. Decisions can be made jointly (by both parents), solely (by one parent), or may be divided between the parents. The most important factor in making this determination is what is best for the child.

Joint Decision-Making (formerly “Joint Custody”): If both parents agree on the major decisions, then Joint Custody (or Joint Allocation of Parental Decision Making) is appropriate. This means all major decisions for the children require the consent of both parents. However, when parents are separating, it can be difficult to make decisions jointly and these discussions can lead to conflict.  It is important to consider whether you are able to move past this conflict to make joint decisions for your children, or whether one or both parents lack the ability to meaningfully participate in this process.  

Sole Decision-Making (formerly “Sole Custody”):  If the parents cannot agree on the major decisions, then sole-decision-making may be appropriate. In that circumstance one of the parents will have final say in all major decisions. While the parents can agree to give one party sole decision-making authority, this is a much more common result after litigation (going to court) and the involvement of experts (custody evaluators, guardians, etc…).

Combination of Joint and Sole Decision-Making: The major decisions (medical, education, religion, and extracurriculars) can be divided between the parents in any way the parents agree or that the court decides is appropriate.  So, if the parents can agree on any of the decisions, that decision can be made jointly with the remaining decisions being made solely by one of the parents.  In other words, any or all of the decisions can be divided up between the parents to be made solely or jointly with the other parent.

Resolving matters related to your children is a key concern during divorce and our skilled attorneys will make sure to protect their interests.

How is custody or allocation of parental responsibilities decided?

Negotiation: Typically, the best outcome is when parents work together with their family lawyers, with or without the help of a mediator, to reach a negotiated agreement on custody and decision-making. This is because you know your children best, and you will be best suited to make decisions impacting your children and their futures.  Settlement also provides the most flexibility to reach creative solutions that are specifically tailored to your family’s needs. Negotiated settlements on parental decision-making cost less and tend to cause less conflict between parents.

Litigation: If parents are unable to agree about any of these major aspects, the court will decide how to allocate each of these particular decision-making responsibilities among the parents. In most cases, mediation is mandated before the parties can proceed with litigation. If the parents cannot or will not work together, the judge will be forced to determine which parent will make the major decisions. Theoretically, a court can order joint decision-making, but this is rare as courts view the inability to reach an agreement before trial as evidence that the parents cannot work together.

When a judge allocates decision making, there are numerous factors taken into consideration. They may look at the needs of the child, wishes of the parents, wishes of the child, prior agreements between parents, schedule of the child, how willing each parent is to encourage a relationship with the other, any history of abuse, and any other factor they deem relevant.

Through negotiation or litigation, Citino Family Law will represent you with tenacity and compassion.