Coparenting: The New Norm for Child Custody
We have all heard it a hundred times. Someone you know is going through a nasty divorce and, while they may spare you the details, it is often clear that your friend is determined to “win” at all costs. He or she feels wronged by the other spouse and may go to great lengths to get what feels like justice. In many cases, “winning” or “losing” is a financial or property value outcome, with the “winning” spouse getting a satisfactory share of the marital estate. For parents, however, the stakes are even higher, and in too many cases, children are used as leverage in the raging war between divorcing spouses. Thanks to recent updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, parents will be expected to adhere to a higher standard of cooperation and to remain invested in serving the child’s best interests, no matter what the relationship between the adults may be.
Allocated Parental Responsibilities
Whether we like to admit it or not, language is very powerful and the words we use can impact not only our message, but our psychological approach to the subject as well. Consider the idea of child custody. Under the existing law, legal custody is awarded as sole or joint custody, making each parent either a custodial parent or non-custodial parent. These titles can be extremely divisive, as a non-custodial parent, for example, may feel like he or she has been relegated to a second-class level of parenting.
With this in mind, the recently-enacted updates to the law can be seen as much more than semantic differences. The concept of child custody as something to be won or granted is being replaced by the allocation of parental responsibilities, a much more fluid and individualized approach to raising a child. Although each parent may have a different role or authority over different aspects of the child’s life, each can also expect their rights to be fully recognized by the court and the other parent.
Negotiation, along with mediation and other forms of dispute resolution, has always been encouraged by family courts, under the assumption that a negotiated agreement is often much more thorough than a court-order, and non-compliance is less of an issue. Starting in 2016, however, the courts will presume that the parents will work together in raising the child.
Before the proceedings for parental responsibilities even begin, the parents will be expected to present a proposed parenting plan to the court outlining each parent’s rights and responsibilities, along with a number of other important considerations. If the proposal is reasonable and in the child’s best interest, the court will accept the plan as the basis for its order. If is not acceptable, mediation may be ordered so that parents can work out a coparenting arrangement that works for all parties, but especially the child. Only as a last resort will the court allocate parental responsibilities on its own, as cooperative parenting is much preferred.
Get Assistance Today
If have questions about the new laws regarding child custody in Illinois, contact a knowledgeable Geneva family law attorney. Our experienced team is ready to help answer your questions and will work with you to find the solution that works best for you and your children. Call 630-232-9700 today to schedule an introductory consultation.