Child custody doesn’t exist.

Child custody doesn’t exist.

There is no such thing as child custody

Parents always talk about “child custody” when I first speak with them. Even lawyers and judges still speak about “custody”. The problem is that there is no such thing as “custody” anymore. The statute was changed in 2016. The word “custody” no longer appears in the statue.

Historical background of “child custody”

Even back in the day before “custody” was erased from the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act, the word “custody” carried very little meaning. Parenting Agreement would be drafted claiming that the parents “shared custody”. However, the agreement would give decision-making power over the child’s life to only one parent. This kind of scam was one of the reasons that the word “custody” was deleted from the statute. The word would provide a false sense of win or loss to the parents. Child-custody cases would often not settle because the parents were hung up on the word.

Decision-making power and parenting time

Now that we’ve established that there is no such thing as “child custody”, here’s what you should consider under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act:

  1. Will you share decision-making power over each of the following with your ex? If not, which parent will make the decision regarding your child’s:
  2. * education,
    * health,
    * religion, and
    * extracurricular activities

  3. How will you allocate the time your child spends with each parent? This should include holiday parenting time, birthdays (the child’s, yours, your child’s other parent), and school vacations.

You should consider the possibility of having some day-time hours with your child during the days that your ex has the child overnight if they have the child for more a few consecutive days.

Another clarification

Even if you have your child less than 50% of the time, you can still be the sole decision-maker regarding some or all of your child’s education, health, religion, and extracurricular activities.

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