Parental Responsibility & Parenting Time

In January of 2016, the IL Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was amended and terminated custody language. The IMDMA now defines child custody as “Allocation of Parental Responsibility”.

Determination of parental responsibility (formally know as child custody) and parenting time are among the most important issues in family law.

The standard for determining parental responsibility and parenting time are the “best interests of the child(ren)”. When allocating parental responsibilities, including parenting time, the court will consider many factors including the wishes of both parents and those of the child, the child’s relationship with each parent, which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver and the child’s current adjustment to home and school.

At Touloupakis Aguirre LLC we have both years of experience and the skills to guide clients through the complex parental responsibility determination process, to gather and present the most effective evidence supporting a client’s position on parental responsibility, to secure a client’s rights in parental responsibility matters either by negotiation or at a hearing, and to draft parenting agreements which not only serve the children’s best interests, but also define each party’s parental rights and responsibilities.

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How is parental responsibility decided?

When parents decide to separate, the question of who will take care of the children is always one of the greatest concerns. There are various levels of solutions for how parental responsibility can be determined. Generally there are two paths a custody case could take: a mediated agreement entered as an order by the court or a contested court case. If the parents of the child decide to establish an agreement through mediation, the focus will most likely be placed on who will become responsible for day-to-day decisions regarding the child and the schedule of visitation.

If the conflict escalates and needs to be resolved by the court, a judge will most likely throw out the predetermined agreement and base his decisions on new evidence. When a child custody case goes to court, 3 things will be decided upon at its end.

Sole Custody

The custodial parent is the one that will be the primary caretaker of the children. A sole custody agreement gives that parent all decision making power from anything like the child’s bed time to where they go to school. If the judge decides that child support is necessary, it will be paid to the parent with sole custody.

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Visitation or Parenting Time

The non-custodial parent has an absolute right to visit with their children and will be granted visitation rights, unless the non-custodial parent is abusive or unfit. Much like the original mediated agreement a schedule will be decided upon that will be legally enforced by the judge’s order. In some cases, when necessary, a version of visitation rights may be granted that is supervised by a third party. The specific schedule for visitation depends on many factors, which can include the amount and type of evidence presented and state law.

Joint Custody

In some scenarios, custody may be divided between the two parents. In some cases the child may permanently live with one parent but both may share decision-making power. The thing about joint custody though is that it is not a strictly defined parameter. A joint custody agreement may be awarded only in those cases where the parents have demonstrated an ability to work together for the benefit of the children. The joint custody details will differ from case to case based on the judge and the agreement between the two parents. The parenting time schedule is still very important with a joint custody decision.

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What if my case goes to court?

If your parental responsibility case does have to go to trial, the judge will be the ultimate decider and he will base everything off of what is best for the child. There are 3 things that you need to think about if you are trying to prove you are an adequate parent and deserve custody.

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1. The judge needs to trust you. A number of factors will play into how the yare perceived by the judge: your health, your presence in the child’s life, your criminal history, your credibility on the stand, your ability to facilitate a positive relationship between the children and the non-custodial parent.

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2. You need to present tangible evidence. If you are the best choice as the child’s custodial parent, you need to prove that a positive relationship exists between you and them. Pictures, videos, and letters are just some of the things that can show your presence in your child’s life.

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3. Testimonials from others will prove whether you have been a good parent or not. Teachers, caretakers, friends, neighbors and relatives can all be witness to your relationship with your children.


Obtaining child custody can be a daunting task and is emotionally draining. The most important thing to remember is what is best for your children. Being cooperative with your spouse in the beginning will make things a lot easier for the children and will make this a lot less of a drawn out process.

At Touloupakis Aguirre in Chicago, our lawyers are committed to finding a solution that best serves the children as well as the rights of the parents involved.

If you need to speak to one of our attorneys please contact us today.