Child “Custody” is Gone: 2016 Illinois Family Law

Last year, 2015, we saw significant changes in Illinois family law with the amendments to Section 504 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. In 2016 we not only see additional revisions to Section 504 of the IMDMA, but also what many consider to be a complete overhaul of the way child support is dealt with in the Illinois legal system.

Child Custody Changes: Allocation of Parental Responsibility

In 2016, Illinois has done away with the term “custody” and replaced it with “allocation of parenting responsibilities.” Essentially, what this means is that the state took all of the parenting responsibility issues commonly dealt with in child custody cases (living arrangements, education, religion, healthcare, etc…) and divided them in to separate issues for which the responsibility can be assigned to either or both parents.

According to the statute, the court consider parental responsibility to include two factors:

  1. Decision-making responsibilities; and
  2. Parenting time

Decision-making Responsibilities

The court is using “decision-making responsibilities” to replace the term “legal custody.” The court separates parental decision-making responsibilities into four major areas of a child’s life:

  1. Education
  2. Health
  3. Religion
  4. Extra curricular activities

Factors considered by the court in determining decision-making responsibilities:

In child custody decisions, the court will always rule in what it sees is the best interest of the child. The specific factors considered by the court in these issues is outlined by statute and include:

  1. The wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making;
  2. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community;
  3. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  4. The ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making;
  5. The level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child;
  6. Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision-making with respect to the child;
  7. The wishes of the parents;
  8. The child’s needs;
  9. The distance between the parents; residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
  10. Whether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate;
  11. The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
  12. The physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child;
  13. The occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  14. Whether one of the parents is a sex offender, and if so, the exact nature of the offense and what, if any, treatment in which the parent has successfully participated; and
  15. Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant.

Parenting Time

Additional factors considered by the court in determining Parenting Time

Similar to the way courts determine the allocation of parenting responsibilities, parenting time is decided with regard to the best interest of the child. However, in addition to the factors used to determine parenting responsibilities, the courts also must consider the following in determining parenting time:

  1. The amount of time each parent has spent taking care of the child over the past two years;
  2. The relationship of the child with his or her parents or siblings or anyone else who may affect the child’s best interests; and
  3. Whether a restriction on parenting time is appropriate.


The recent changes to Illinois family law statute, effective January 1, 2016, may affect your case. To discuss your case with an experienced divorce attorney please contact our office at 630-844-2766. Motta & Motta Divorce Attorneys, Robert Motta and Paul Koontz, can provide the information you need to make the right decisions for you and your family.