The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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Parental Responsibilities, Part One: Decision Making

Posted on in Child Custody

decision making, Aurora family law attorneyIf you are a parent going through a divorce, you have probably given thought to how the process and its aftermath with affect your relationship with your children. You may have heard horror stories from friends and family members who never get to see their children or those whose children rarely spend time with their other parent. It is possible, however, for you and your spouse to develop a plan that provides for your child’s best interests while allowing your child to maintain a healthy relationship with both of you.

A Two-Pronged Approach

While there are many considerations that must be made in creating a workable parenting plan, there are two primary areas of focus according to Illinois law. The first concern is determining each parent’s responsibilities for significant decision making while the second addresses each party’s parenting time with the child.

Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities

In 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was revamped to create a new understanding of child custody. In fact, the changes all but eliminated the term “custody” from the law, replacing it with a revised approach called the allocation of parental responsibilities. Under the previous law, one parent could have sole legal custody of his or her child, or the parents could share joint legal custody.

With the new law now in effect, negotiated parenting plans and court orders no longer create sole or joint custody scenarios. Instead, these plans specify the authority that each parent has over significant decisions about the child’s life. According to the law, “significant decisions” are any concerns that have the ability to affect the child over the long term, and generally include the child’s:

  • Health and medical care;
  • Education, including choice of school;
  • Religious training, as appropriate; and
  • Extracurricular activities.

How Decision-Making Authority Can Be Divided

There are many ways for divorced, separated, or unmarried parents to allocate significant decision-making responsibilities. It is possible for just one parent or the other to have full control over all significant decisions. Some plans may require the parents to discuss the decision in question, but one parent has the authority to make the final choice. Other plans could specify that all significant decisions must be made by both parents together. Finally, it is also possible for one parent to be responsible for certain types of decisions—a parent who is a teacher, for example, could be in charge of educational decisions—while the other parent has authority over all other concerns.

Contact a DuPage County Lawyer

If you have questions about protecting your rights regarding your children in your divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney in Aurora, Illinois. Call 630-409-8184 for a confidential consultation at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. today.


The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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