Child Rearing Decision-Making

by Wes Cowell; updated 4 January 2016 -- suggest a correction


Illinois' new Parental Responsibility law (SB- 57) went into effect 1 January 2016.  It abolished the concept of "child custody."  Instead, the court allocates between Mom and Dad all child-rearing decision-making.  Instead of having "sole custody" or "joint custody," we now allocate between Mom and Dad decision-making power in four important areas of child rearing."  Need advice?  Call, leave your info, or schedule a consult.


The New Law: Illinois no longer recognizes the concept of "child custody."  Instead, the new law (750 ILCS 5/602.5) allocates between the parents the child-rearing responsibilities and major decision-making.


The law recognizes four significant issues for major decision-making, but allows wiggle room to include other areas.  The law says:


Unless the parents otherwise agree in writing on an allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities . . . the court shall make the determination.  The court shall allocate to one or both of the parents the significant decision-making responsibility for each significant issue affecting the child.  Those significant issues shall include, without limitation, the following:

(1) Education, including the choice of schools and tutors.

(2) Health, including all decisions relaing to the medical, dental, and psychological needs of ht echild and to the treatments arising or resulting from those needs.

(3) Religion, subject to the following provisions:

(A)  The court shall allocate decision-making responsibilities for the child's religious upbringing in accordance with any express or implied agreement between the parents.

(B) The court shall consider evidence of the parties past conduct as to the child's religious upbringing in allocating decision-making responsibilitiesconsistent with demonstrated bpast conduct in teh absence of an express or implied agreementbetween the parents.

(C)  THe court shall not allocate any aspect of the child's religious upbringing if it determines that eh pare parents do not or did not have an express or implied agreement for such religious upbringing or that there is insufficient evidence to deomstrate a course of conduct regarding the child's religious upbringing that could serve as a basis for any such order.

(4) Extracurricular activities.

750 ILCS 5/602.5


The Parenting Plan / Allocation Judgment:  Illinois law requires parents to try to come to an agreement about the decisions they'll have to make in rearing their children.  That's called the "parenting plan."  750 ILCS 5/600 (f).  If the parents cannot agree, the court will determine the parents' respective righs and resposibilities.  That's called an "allocation judgment."  750 ILCS 5/600 (b).  Parenting plans and allocation judgments must lay out a parenting schedule and determine whether one or both parents will be involved in determining the extra-curricular activities of the children.


Education:  Someone has to decide whether the kids attend the local, public school or a private school; whether a tutor is called in, whether a child attends summer school, etc.  The parenting plan / allocation judgment must say whether one or both parents will make these decision.  Regardless of the allocation, parents still have to do what they have to do regarding homework and cracking the whip.  






Extracuricular Activities:   If EC decision-making is vested in one parent, that parent calls the shots and that's all there is to it.  If EC decision-making is vested in both parents, they must work together.  When signing their kids up for ECs, parents with joint decision-making power must cooperate regarding

  • the substance and nature of the activity,

  • covering the cost of the activity, and

  • the practice and performance schedule for the activity.


Parents sometimes strongly disagree about certain activities (consider, for example, weighing risk of brain injury in youth football). Costs, too, can create problems when parents are not on equal financial footing.  The greatest numer of conflict involving extra-curriculars, however, when they conflict with the parenting schedule.  EC schedules can wreak havoc on the parenting schedule. 


Every kid is different, but many judges follow a rule of thumb (not articulated in the law) that a cild should enjoy two extra-curricular activies at any given time: one cultural (music or dance lessons?) and one athletic (soccer or baseball?).




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