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Parental Responsibilities in Illinois

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Parental responsibilities in Illinois go beyond writing a check or picking the child up from school. Unless a parent is prohibited from contacting their child by the court, both parents are responsible for maintaining the health and welfare of during their parenting time with the child. These responsibilities include:

Smiling female doctor give high five to little biracial patient

Medical Appointments

Both parents are responsible for the health insurance and medical expenses of the child. Unless otherwise specified, both parents are responsible for 50% of these expenses. If one parent pays for these expenses, they may request reimbursement from the other parent

Extracurricular Activities

Parental responsibilities include ensuring that children can attend extracurricular activities during parenting time. This means taking care of transportation needs and any expenses these activities create.

General Welfare

Parents are responsible for feeding their children, ensuring they have adequate clothing for prevailing weather conditions, etc. Parents are also responsible for ensuring the child’s physical safety while the child is in their care. If either parent feels that the child’s safety is being endangered, they can request that the court modify parenting time to better protect the child. However, doing so requires that thorough evidence be provided that clearly shows the risks and reasoning.


Parenting time includes engaging with the child. Parking a child in front of a television or computer screen does not enrich a child’s time with either their custodial or non-custodial parent. Recommendations for parenting time in Illinois include engaging in discussion, playtime, administering discipline, etc.

Parents with Significant Decision-Making Responsibility

Changes to the Illinois Defense of Marriage Act in 2016 mean the courts can award either, or both parents significant decision-making responsibilities. These include decisions regarding education, healthcare, religion, activity, etc. These can be broken down and divided or shared.

Changes to Parenting Time

Parenting time is not set in stone. Either parent can request changes be made to the parenting time arrangements at almost any time the child is a minor. Modifications may be requested by a custody lawyer for any number of reasons including changes in career, changes in physical location, child’s wishes, etc.

Unless otherwise specified or agreed to by both parties, both parents will be required to maintain the schedule and responsibilities as identified within the parenting plan for the first two years. However, the court can allow for exceptions and requests for modification during this time period if there is a bona fide and documented threat to the child’s health or safety.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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