Changes are coming to the custody and visitation portions of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). However, at this time and in prior years, there are distinct differences between the terms “custody” and “visitation.” Many litigants of custody battles do not know if they should be awarded custody of their children.
Each parent to a divorce usually believes they want “custody” of their children. However, often times what that parent is asking is whether the child(ren) can spend more time with one parent than the other. Technically, this is not custody of a child. Technically, under the current statute, the term of art “visitation” determines how much time each parent spends with a child.
Custody, in contrast to time, is decision making. The parent that decides the choice of doctor for a child is making a custody decision as one example (medical decision making). If the parents can agree on the choice of doctor, it may be appropriate to award joint custody to the parents. Other major custody issues involve decision making related to extracurricular activities (enrollment and selection), child care, religious training or lack thereof, and the like. If two parties can agree on all of these decisions, than they are strong candidates for joint custody.
Judges like to see parties cooperate with each other – especially in situations dealing with children and what is in the best interest of your children. When two parents agree to a joint custody judgment, the judge is unlikely to find it unconscionable. Harmony between parents is more often than note presumed to be in the best interest of the children.
The issue that most parents argue over in the negotiation process is visitation. The more appropriate term for visitation is “parenting time.” This is the time that each parent spends or is designated with the child(ren). In a shared custody arrangement, parenting time is often split close to equal. If one parent is the “primary residential parent,” then that parent has more time and more day-to-day responsibilities of making decisions for your kids.
If you have any remaining questions about custody versus visitation after reading this article, please do not hesitate to contact Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC to assist with answering your questions.