Implications of Changed Custody Terms in the 2016 Version of the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution Act

Custody Terms

The law continues to develop and change as the needs of the community change. Over the past few years, there have been several major changes to the Marriage and Dissolution Act, and so a comprehensive rewrite has taken place. As of January 1, 2016, the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution of Marriage Act (Public Act 99-90) will include some fundamental changes across several areas of divorce. Today we discuss the changes to changed custody terms.

Joint and Sole Custody– These familiar terms will become obsolete. This change came, in part, because of a general misunderstanding of how Joint and Sole Custody function, and also in part to include new ways to divide responsibilities between parents.

Visitation- Another familiar term, “visitation” is disappearing from the Act, in part to reduce the stigma of being the parent that only has “visitation rights” as opposed to being the “custodial parent”.

New Terminology

Allocation of parental responsibilities for decision-making– Significant decisions include the place of residence, education, religion, and health-related decisions. It is important to note that with this new allocation terminology, there is more chance for a logical division of decisions that do not automatically favor the “custodial parent”.

Allocation of parental responsibilities for parenting time– “Parenting Time” refers to the time in which one of the parents will be responsible for the caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making with regards to the child. This replaces the terms “custody” and “visitation.”

Allocation Judgments– Instead of a custody order, the parties will construct, or the court will order, “Allocation Judgments.”


As the law is currently written, a flaw was that decision-making power generally went hand in hand with being awarded the “custody” of the minor children, and child support was required of whichever parent was not awarded custody. This new terminology allows for different decisions to be allocated to different parents. In theory, even though a child predominantly lives with one parent, the other parent may have the right to decide where the child goes to school, or other major decisions.

Child support will be less affected by these changes, as the allocation of caretaking responsibilities will still be the main factor in determining who will pay child support.

Are you concerned that these changes will affect your next custody modification or child support review? Contact the Law Office of Michael P. Doman, Ltd.

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