Before you go to court for your Illinois child custody hearing, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the terminology used in such cases. Some of the terms you may be familiar with may be different in legal proceedings. Having this understanding will allow you to better follow along once you are in the courtroom and ensure that you understand any questions asked of you.

The State of Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County explains that the changes in child custody terminology took place with the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act in 2016. One of the biggest terminology changes to take place was replacing the terms custody and visitation with the term parental responsibilities. So, if you see this term, understand it refers to both discussions of custody in general and visitation.

Legal custody is now allocation of parental responsibilities. This means you have the right to make decisions for your child in four categories: religion, education, extracurricular activities and health. The court may also give you parenting time, which is when you have physical custody of the child and makes you responsible for general care of the child.

Finally, expect to hear about a parenting plan. This is an agreement on parental rights that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse create that outlines your parental responsibilities.

These new terms may be confusing at first, but the general idea is to create a more equal and inclusive process. When you consider parental responsibilities, it makes it seem more relaxed than using the term custody. This information is for education and is not legal advice.