Issues with Children
Custody is No Longer Awarded in Family Law Cases
The most comprehensive rewrite of family law is about to take effect on January 1, 2016.
The changes center around a move to eliminate the label of custody and to instead focus on areas of responsibility for decision-making and parenting time rather than visitation. The purpose of eliminating custody is to minimize the competition for obtaining custody and instead to focus on co-parenting. Whether or not this change can facilitate better parenting of children when the parents are not together remains to be seen.
The areas that have been designated for decision-making by parents are: health care, education, extracurricular activities, and religion. Within each of these particular areas it is important to provide specific guidance as to the goals of the parties in each area, who is making the decision, and how the decision is being made. For each of the four areas the decisions can be made either by the parties jointly or assigned to one parent.
In order to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will consider the ability of the parties to make decisions together, the role each parent has played in the past as to making decisions, and the distance between the parties residences in addition to the best interests of the children as outlined below:
(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 under Section 603.10;
(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 find to be relevant.
750 ILCS 5/602.5
Visitation Has Been Replaced By Parenting Time
Also changing is what has been known as visitation. Now instead parties will have parenting time with their minor children. This change also means that it is presumed that each parent shall enjoy parenting time with their minor child(ren). Even if a parent does not have parental responsibility allocated to them, they still should receive parenting time. In order to allocate parenting time, not only will the court consider the allocation of parental responsibility and caretaking functions over the last twenty-four (24) months as outlined above, but the court will also consider the geographic distance between the parties.
If you are considering asking for the other parent to have some type of condition on their parenting time, such as supervision, it is important to know that this will become much more difficult. Under the new statute it is required that one would show a substantial risk of harm in order for their to be any limitation or condition on a parent’s parenting time.
Taken into consideration when determining each party’s parenting time are care-taking functions of them minor children. The caretaking functions are defined as follows:
(1) satisfying a child's nutritional needs; managing a child's bedtime and wake-up routines; caring for a child when the child is sick or injured; being attentive to a child's personal hygiene needs, including washing, grooming, and dressing; playing with a child and ensuring the child attends scheduled extracurricular activities; protecting a child's physical safety; and providing transportation for a child;
(2) directing a child's various developmental needs, including the acquisition of motor and language skills, toilet training, self-confidence, and maturation;
(3) providing discipline, giving instruction in manners, assigning and supervising chores, and performing other tasks that attend to a child's needs for behavioral control and self-restraint;
(4) ensuring the child attends school, including remedial and special services appropriate to the child's needs and interests, communicating with teachers and counselors, and supervising homework;
(5) helping a child develop and maintain appropriate interpersonal relationships with peers, siblings, and other family members;
(6) ensuring the child attends medical appointments and is available for medical follow-up and meeting the medical needs of the child in the home;
(7) providing moral and ethical guidance for a child; and
(8) arranging alternative care for a child by a family member, babysitter, or other child care provider or facility, including investigating such alternatives, communicating with providers, and supervising such care.
750 ILCS 5/600
Marking Payments on Your Student Loans, Medical Debts or Ex's Credit Cards May Lower Your Child Support
Child support is determined by multiplying your net income by a percentage set by Illinois Statute. Net income allows one to deduct federal and state income taxes, social security, medicare, and mandatory payments necessary to make income (ie. union dues).
The changes to family law statutes also impacts child support. Now an individual paying child support is allowed to subtract their student loan payments in order to arrive at net income to determine child support. This change could drastically lower child support allowing for the party paying child support to better provide for his family. In addition one is able to also deduct reasonable business expenses, repayment of debts to the benefit of the party receiving child support or the child, and payments for medical debts to preserve life or health.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the changes taking effect. We are here to help! Give us a call to help guide you through the family law practice. Our staff is dedicated to educating you on the process and providing guidance so that you can reach the best resolution possible.