Cropped image of male judge signing document at desk against black backgroundDoes the joint parenting agreement from your Illinois divorce need updating? It might, based on several new family and divorce laws taking effect in 2016.

Parents who are already divorced or still in the process of divorce planning should be aware of how these changes will affect them and of the potential for more court involvement in post-divorce parenting arrangements.


After January 1, 2016, a parenting order will be referred to as an “allocation judgment.” Under the new laws, the Court can allocate parenting plan rulings (formerly called visitation) and can also assign specific parenting and decision-making responsibilities to each party. These include:

  • Education
  • Religion
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Nutritional needs
  • Bedtime/wake-up routines
  • Illness and injury care
  • Hygiene, grooming, dressing
  • Ensuring attendance at activities
  • Transportation
  • Protection of child’s safety


In addition, any changes or modifications by the Court to a parenting plan or allocation judgment will now be considered and determined by a preponderance of evidence rather than the higher standard of clear and convincing proof.

This means that the Court will be involved in many more parenting issues than before, which may help some parents but may also be an invasion of privacy to others.


Developing a professional relationship with a divorce mediator or attorney can help separated parents maintain control and privacy and prevent over-involvement of the court in the parenting of their children.

My practice offers family mediation and collaborative divorce services by trained professionals. We show divorced parents how to work as a team to reduce or eliminate the Court’s involvement in their parenting duties. Contact me for more information.


Erin BirtIllinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.