100 North LaSalle Street, Suite 1111,
Chicago, IL 60602


call us312-984-1514

Is There a Difference Between Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities? 

 Posted on October 15, 2021 in Child Custody / Parental Responsibilities

chicago custody lawyerA parent’s relationship with a child is one of the most precious and enduring joys of life. Unfortunately, sometimes the strength of this relationship can be threatened by divorce and the process of splitting a family into two separate households. Parents in Illinois are often understandably worried about what this means for their relationship with their children. As a result, making decisions about child-related issues during divorce can become contentious and difficult. 

About five years ago, the Illinois legislature updated the law regarding children’s issues when parents get divorced. Rather than referring to “custody” or “visitation,” Illinois law now uses the terms “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time,” respectively. It is important to understand what these two terms mean and how they might apply to you.

What are Parental Responsibilities? 

The recent changes enable Illinois courts to address changing social mores. Over the past many decades, parents who got divorced could expect the mother to obtain “custody” and the father to obtain “visitation.” Today, changes in gender roles see many more women in the workplace and many more fathers playing an active role in rearing their children. 

The allocation of parental responsibilities reflects these changes by addressing important decision-making abilities in a parenting plan, regardless of which parent a child spends some or even most of her time with. For example, a mother’s work schedule may allow her to spend less time during the week with her child, but she may still want to play an equal role in determining where the child will go to school. 

In addition to spending time with the child and caring for her daily needs, parental responsibilities include, but are not limited to, making decisions about the following important topics on behalf of the child:

  • Access to healthcare and health insurance coverage

  • Where the child will go to school and any supplemental help they may need

  • Extracurricular or recreational activities, such as sports or musical instruments 

  • The child’s involvement in religion, if any

What is Parenting Time? 

Rather than referring to a parent spending time with their own children as “visitation,” that term now only applies to third parties like grandparents. “Parenting time” is just what it sounds like - parents spending time with their children and taking responsibility for the child while he or she is in the parent’s care. 

When courts make decisions about the allocation of parenting time, they can take many factors into account. The most important of these is the best interests of the child. Others include: 

  • The parent’s preferences and relationship with the child

  • The child’s preferences, if appropriate

  • How close the parents live and any difficulties involved in transporting the child between homes

  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and the likelihood that the child will be exposed to conflict with any particular arrangement

  • How well adjusted the child is to his or her current situation and the benefits of maintaining the status quo

Meet with a Skokie, IL Parenting Time Lawyer

Parenting time and parental responsibilities are not the same, but they are both very important parts of an effective parenting plan. At The Law Offices of Curtis Bennett Ross, L.L.C., we will help you understand both of these issues and advocate passionately for your parental rights. If you are facing divorce, work with an experienced Cook County, IL parental responsibilities attorney you can trust. Call us today at 312-984-1514 to schedule your free and confidential consultation. 




Share this post:
Back to Top