When parents get divorced, they have to make arrangements not only for where their children will live, but also for how they will be raised. Who will make decisions about their education, religious training, health care, cultural exposure and social activities? In Illinois, this authority — formerly known as legal custody — is now called parental decision-making responsibility. As with legal custody, a court can order that this responsibility be vested in one parent or shared by both.
A judge will look at several factors in deciding if shared decision-making authority should be awarded to the divorcing parents. The judge will first examine the ability of the parents to cooperate with each other in raising their children after the divorce is final. The expressed desires of the parents will also be taken into consideration.
Illinois law recognizes four primary areas of parental decision-making: education, healthcare, religion and extracurricular activities. The judge could determine that the parents have shared responsibilities for some or all these areas.
Decisions about day-to-day activities are normally decided by the parent with whom with child primarily resides. This includes attending to the child’s school and activities calendar and dealing with practical issues as they come up. The other parent may not need to be consulted, for example, on whether the child should be allowed to spend the night with a friend or participate in a social event.
However, major issues — such as whether the child should attend private school or should change their religious affiliation — are usually subject to shared decision making. Decisions that involve significant financial expenditures are also typically shared. The same is true for decisions about participation in activities that could endanger the child’s health or safety, such as a rock-climbing outing or a trip abroad to a country undergoing civil unrest.
While courts generally favor shared decision-making authority, there can be circumstances that ward against it. If a spouse has a history of neglecting the children or is shown to be uninterested or incapable of attending to their welfare, decision-making responsibility may be vested in the other spouse. This also may result if one spouse has a drug or alcohol addiction or another condition that makes them unfit to make decisions for what is in the children’s best interests.
At the Law Offices of Paul Chatzky (routinely handling cases before the Court in Skokie and other suburban District Courts) with offices in Northfield, we have extensive experience dealing with Illinois parental decision-making matters. We can help you resolve any issues about shared responsibility that may arise. Call us at 847-416-1646 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Paul Chatzky is fluent in Spanish and English, enabling him to effectively represent a wider range of individuals and families. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and is listed among Illinois Super Lawyers, which is a reflection of his high ethical standards and exceptional legal knowledge. As a…
Prior to joining the firm as a paralegal, Debbie was employed by major banking institutions as a loan processor and as an executive secretary. Debbie was also employed as an administrative assistant for the Board of Jewish Education. Having majored in Sociology, Debbie graduated from the University of Florida in 1980. Debbie completed her studies…