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Divorce Q&A: Why Custody is Now Parental Responsibility


The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act changed on January 1, 2016 and child custody is no longer a term used in Illinois law. Now, what was once custody has become parental responsibility.

There are many reasons this change was necessary. However, at the heart of it all, is the desire to lessen the divorce process as a contentious event and instead, facilitate cooperation between parents to raise children.

What “Parental Responsibility” Means

Parental responsibility refers to issues such as education, health, religion, and extracurricular activities. In all divorces, the Court will decide whether parents should share joint or one parent should have sole decision-making authority for the children.

In most cases, parents share the ability to make decisions. As such, you will need to agree with your spouse regarding all of the issues above. This means things like where your children attend school, their religious upbringing, and which extracurricular activities they can participate in.

As you can imagine, it can be difficult for some parents to agree on all these issues. However, it’s possible and as such, remains a part of the new divorce law.

Why Make the Change?

The underlying reason for this change in terminology is the idea of eliminating “winners” and “losers” from divorce court. Unfortunately, many parents choose to use their children as a way to fight in divorce. The spouse who used to be awarded residential custody would like at it as a “win” over the other spouse. This fostered the contentious environment all too common to divorce.

In changing the law, the court hopes to eliminate a desire to litigate all child-related issues to protect children in the divorce process. Of course, this isn’t always possible. However, the idea behind the new change is important when you begin your own divorce here in Illinois.

Contact Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. to Learn More About Parental Responsibility and What it Means for You

Parental responsibility can be confusing to many who are accustomed to the term “custody” as part of divorce. When you begin the divorce process, you’ll soon see that it is a simple way to avoid some of the common hiccups that lengthen the divorce process and put unnecessary stress and concern on children as well.

At Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd., we offer over 35 years of experience in divorce and family law and a keen awareness of the new law to ensure your interests are well represented. Contact us at 630-470-9990 to discuss your unique case or fill in our simple online form and we will contact you to arrange your free 30-minute consultation.

Concentrated on Family Law

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.