More about the changes in Illinois’ Parentage Act for 2016

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Saturday, January 2, 2016.

Last week, we discussed Illinois’ Parentage Act of 2015, and how it will introduce different terminology into the state’s family law statutes. The words we use can make a big difference. For example, as we mentioned back on Dec. 24, state law will now use the gender-neutral term “parent” instead of “mother” and “father” in child custody and child support matters.

This recognizes that many children in the state have parents of the same sex, and that parental rights are not affected by that fact. Another change in the language may change how judges allocate child custody time to separated or divorced parents.

Technically, starting Jan. 1, “child custody” will be a thing of the past in Illinois. In its place will be “allocation of parenting time and responsibility.” This rather long phrase is intended to change the way courts consider their responsibility toward custody. One attorney who helped write the new Parentage Act told the Belleville News-Democrat that it will “take the sting” out of the process.

However, it is important to note that the standard of determining how much time children will live with each parent will not change. The child’s best interests will still be the most important consideration. But referring to “allocation” instead of “custody” may reflect the growing evolution of shared custody. Instead of the traditional set-up where one parent, usually the mother, gets sole custody, more often these days parents share custody.

This is because courts increasingly recognize that having both parents in their lives regularly is good for children, at least in most cases.

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