Statutory Factors that Judges Utilize in the Allocation of Parent Responsibilities: Decision Making

Parents can certainly agree to share decision making and allocation of time. However, in the absence of an agreement, courts will look to the factors outlined in the statute in determining parenting time and decision making. The court may even appoint an expert to make findings regarding the allocation of parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities with the applicable factors in mind under the statute.

Trying to reach an agreement with the other parent (when possible) is much better for your child and also affords you control over the outcomes. If you are unable to agree, the Judge will take into consideration the specific facts in your case and how they fit into the statutory framework for allocating parenting time and decision making. Of course, not every case will necessarily involve all the factors.
The statute below enumerates the factors the court considers. However, it needs to be understood and read in the context of other statutes. Section 600, 602, 602.1, 604.10 and 603.10
750 ILCS 5/602.5) 
    Sec. 602.5. 
Allocation of parental responsibilities: decision-making.
    (a) Generally. The court shall allocate decision-making responsibilities according to the child’s best interests. Nothing in this Act requires that each parent be allocated decision-making responsibilities.
    (b) Allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities. Unless the parents otherwise agree in writing on an allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities, or the issue of the allocation of parental responsibilities has been reserved under Section 401, 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 tutor
(2) Health, including all decisions relating to the medical, dental, and psychological needs of the child and to the treatments arising or resulting from those needs.
(3) Religion, subject to the following provisions:
(A) The court shall allocate decision-making responsibility 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 parents’ past conduct as to the child’s religious upbringing in allocating decision-making responsibilities consistent with demonstrated past conduct in the absence of an express or implied agreement between the parents.
     (C) The court shall not allocate any aspect of the child’s religious upbringing if it determines that the parents do not or did not have an express or implied agreement for such religious upbringing or that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate a course of conduct regarding the child’s religious upbringing that could serve as a basis for any such order.
(4) Extracurricular activities.
(c) Determination of child’s best interests. In determining the child’s best interests for purposes of allocating significant decision-making responsibilities, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, without limitation, the following:
(1) the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making;
(2) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community;
(3) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
(4) the ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making;
(5) the level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child;
(6) any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision-making with respect to the child;
(7) the wishes of the parents;
(8) the child’s needs;
(9) the distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
(10) whether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate under Section 603.10;
(11) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
(12) the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child;
(13) the occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child’s household;
(14) whether one of the parents is a sex offender, and if so, the exact nature of the offense and what, if any, treatment in which the parent has successfully participated; and
(15) any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant.
    (d) A parent shall have sole responsibility for making routine decisions with respect to the child and for emergency decisions affecting the child’s health and safety during that parent’s parenting time.
(e) In allocating significant decision-making responsibilities, the court shall not consider conduct of a parent that does not affect that parent’s relationship to the child.
(Source: P.A. 99-90, eff. 1-1-16.)
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About MickiMoran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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