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Deciphering child custody terminology for Illinois families

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Child Custody |

In recent years, many states, including Illinois, changed the language used in divorce matters involving children. If divorcing or going to court for a child-related family matter, you need to understand the words and phrases you may encounter. Even a small misinterpretation can lead to an undesirable outcome for you or your children.

Take a moment to learn more recent terminology Illinois family courts use when addressing custody matters.

Your parenting plan

What you may know as a custody agreement is a parenting plan in Illinois. It contains all the details about how you and your co-parent intend to divide time-sharing and parental responsibilities for your children. A parenting plan should clearly state where the children live, how child exchange transportation works and other critical details.

Speaking of responsibilities

Commonly known as legal custody elsewhere, the term “parental responsibilities” in Illinois describes the decision-making rights of parents. Depending on the outcome of your negotiations, you may share these parental responsibilities with your ex, or one parent could obtain sole responsibilities.

Visitation and custody are parenting time

You may expect to hear the judge discuss your or your co-parent’s child visitation rights, but you probably won’t encounter this term here. Instead, courts in the state use the term “parenting time,” which refers to how much time a parent actually spends with their child. In most Illinois cases, both parents get some amount of parenting time.

Remember, misunderstanding unfamiliar terminology is not the only way you may inadvertently compromise your parental rights. Having experienced legal guidance can help you protect your parenting rights as you work to do what’s best for your kids.