Understanding Your Parenting Rights
Gone are the days where only mom stayed at home with the children. Instead of seeing only moms at school pick up and drop offs, class parties and activities, it’s just as common to see dad doing these tasks as well. Many children are growing up in households that can only survive with incomes earned by both parents. Children are growing up observing that both parents are responsible for the caretaking functions of the household. In some households, moms are the primary wage earners or dads are staying at home with the minor children. More importantly, many households are no longer made up of parents who are male and female and married or even households with married parents. Some households have two moms, or two dads, some households consist of stepparents or single parents, and in some households, the children’s parents are not married.
There is often as assumption by clients that mom will “win” custody, while dad will be “stuck” with every other weekend and maybe a dinner or two during the week. As society is evolving, our laws in Illinois are finally changing. The change has been slow, but changes are being made. In 2015, Illinois amended the Illinois Parentage Act. The amended Act is gender-neutral. This Act provides the same protection for the child’s two parents, regardless of the gender of the parents. In addition, the Act provides that the parent/child relationship extends to both parents, regardless of the legal relationship of the parents.
In addition to the amendments of the Illinois Parentage Act, in 2016 the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act also went through a major overhaul. Gone are the days of sole or joint custody. We now allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time. In addition, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act sets forth the best interest standards for deciding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. We still have the well-known parenting schedule of every other weekend and one day a week, but we also have schedules which consist of equal parenting time, or schedules that expand weekend parenting time (for example, every other Thursday to Monday-to give an example).
These are only a few changes set forth in Illinois Parentage Act and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. These changes have given hope to those parents who never thought they had a fighting chance in court. Be sure to talk to one of our experienced attorneys at Sefton Kelly Family Law to learn more about your rights as a parent, and to work for the parenting schedule that is best for your family.
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