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What are caretaking functions to follow in child custody?

When parents in Illinois are in dispute over child custody or other factors involved with the child's care, there are many underlying issues that must be taken into account. It is not simply about which parent will have the child when and how this will be navigated and settled. Certain portions of the agreement are inherent as to how the child will be cared for and if the best interests of the child are met. Included in that are the caretaking functions of the parent. Knowing what is entailed in these caretaking functions and, particularly, if they are not being met, is a key factor in the case.

Caretaking functions are certain tasks that will help with the parent's interaction with the child or will be handled in a supervisory position. This can include many different things. Some examples of caretaking functions are adhering to the child's nutritional requirements, making certain that the child has a certain bedtime and time to wake up, taking care of injuries and illnesses, helping the child have proper hygiene and taking part in extracurricular activities.

Other important caretaking functions include helping the child with his or her developmental requirements such as language and motor skills, toilet training and maturation, and disciplining the child when necessary and within reason. Giving chores that must be completed and helping the child learn proper behavior and restraint are also examples of caretaking functions, as is making certain the child goes to school and is able to function properly while there and assisting the child in developing relationships with those in his or her life. Finally, keeping up with medical requirements such as appointments and medications, giving the child ethical advice and guidance, and making certain the child is provided with alternative care when it is needed are also included as caretaking functions.

Some parents might not be competent in these issues or there could be a disagreement as to how it is handled. This the relationship with children is often contingent on the proper implementation of these caretaking functions, a disagreement can become a problem. This is why such issues as parenting time and proper care for a child might need to be bolstered with help from a qualified legal professional who can help to protect both the rights of their client and the child's best interests.

Source: ilga.gov, "Part VI -- Allocation of Parental Responsibilities -- Sec. 600. (C) Caretaking functions," accessed on Sept. 20, 2016

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