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What is “parenting time” according to Illinois family laws?

Divorce can affect children the most, which is why courts always prioritize their best interests when making decisions regarding child custody. Illinois has done away with the term custody. Instead, the state uses the term “parental responsibilities” to cover a broad range of child-custody matters, along with decision-making responsibility and parenting time.

A parent with “decision-making responsibility” has the legal authority to decide for their child, particularly for significant decisions regarding their child’s life. It is similar to legal custody. On the other hand, “parenting time” is the equivalent of physical custody. According to Illinois family laws, parenting time refers to the time the child stays with the parent “during which the parent is responsible for exercising caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making responsibilities with respect to the child.”

Understanding caretaking functions

Understanding the caretaking functions is crucial for parents because it directly relates to the child’s daily needs and the ability to provide for them. Caretaking functions include all tasks associated with the direct care of the child. When your child is with you because it is your court-approved or court-ordered parenting time, then you are responsible for the following:

  • Providing your child’s nutritional needs
  • Being attentive to your child’s grooming, clothes, cleanliness and personal hygiene
  • Giving your child emotional support
  • Disciplining your child when necessary
  • Ensuring your child goes to school and attends scheduled extracurricular activities
  • Managing your child’s healthcare appointments
  • Protecting your child from harm
  • Instilling values and principles in your child
  • Fostering healthy social interactions among your child and their peers, siblings, and relatives

Every parent has the right to spend time with their kids, but this right is a privilege that comes with the responsibilities above. Parents who understand their responsibilities and are actively involved in caretaking are better prepared to advocate for custody arrangements that benefit their child’s development and well-being.

The significance of knowing how to care for your child

It is vital to know all about taking care of your child. This is because the judge will look at what is best for the child and who has been doing the most to meet the child’s needs when deciding who the child should live with and how the parents will make decisions for the child.

Your child is your priority. Therefore, you want to make certain that whether they are with you or their other parent, they receive the kind of care they deserve.



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