What Is the Difference Between Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time?
Couples with children in Illinois who are separating or getting divorced will need to create a shared parenting plan to address issues related to the children. Although this can seem like a daunting task, especially if parents find it difficult to get along, Illinois law has recently changed to make modern parenting arrangements easier to create.
When creating a parenting plan, parents must address two main areas: Parental responsibilities and parenting time. These two areas share some overlap and are both important, but it is important to understand exactly what they are and how they differ.
The term “parental responsibilities” refers not only to time spent with children, caring for them and ensuring their needs are met but also to the authority parents have to make important decisions for their children. Included among these issues are:
- Education - Where a child attends school and whether that school is public, private, secular, or parochial can have a major impact on a child’s life.
- Healthcare - Healthcare coverage, primary care doctors, when a child gets braces, and whether a child should be placed on certain medication all fall under the purview of healthcare decisions.
- Extracurricular activities - Learning to play an instrument, playing on sports teams, or joining the school newspaper are all great ways to enrich a child’s social and emotional wellbeing. However, all activities carry costs and risks and a parent must help guide children as they develop their interests.
- Religious involvement - Some parents feel very strongly that their children are raised in a particular religion, and clearly delineating how parents address the issue of religion can help prevent future conflict.
Parents may agree to share these decision-making responsibilities, or one parent may be in charge of healthcare and religious upbringing while the other parent handles educational decisions and extracurricular activities. What matters is that each parent understands his or her responsibilities, prioritizes the needs of the child, and abides by the terms of the parenting plan.
“Parenting time” refers to the time-sharing arrangement between parents regarding the children. Although parenting time does not address important decision-making responsibilities, parents are still responsible for the important daily tasks of caring for the children when they are with them.
Many parents choose to split parenting time equally, alternating weekends and holidays, but this arrangement may not work for everyone. Although parents are encouraged to work together to create a parenting plan when they are unable to compromise an Illinois judge can write and order a plan that must be followed. When judges create parenting plans, they take many factors into account, including:
- The wishes of the parents and their relationship with the children
- The wishes of the children, if they are of sufficient age and maturity to form an opinion
- The children’s connection to their existing home, school, and the broader community
- The likelihood that children will be exposed to conflict if parents must transition the children frequently between households
- The mental and physical health of the parents and children
- Whether any domestic violence, neglect, or abuse has occurred
Contact a St. Charles Parental Responsibilities Lawyer
Parents in Illinois will be able to work together more peacefully and have a more productive relationship if they understand their rights and obligations under Illinois family law. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., our experienced Kane County parenting time attorneys will strive to help you understand how parental responsibility and parenting time work so you can create a great parenting plan and set your family up for success. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling us at 630-584-5550 and find out how we can help you.