Parental Custody and School Decisions

Although many people still talk about custody in the wake of divorce, Illinois no longer uses the term. The Court usually decides who gets parental responsibilities when married parents divorce; if the parents were never married, the Court needs to decide on parentage, parenting issues, child support, and parenting time with the child.

There are two types of parental responsibilities:

  • Significant Decision-Making Responsibility
  • Parenting Time

Who Makes School Decisions?

When a child is with a parent, that parent is responsible for the day-to-day care, but what about big decisions, such as enrolling a child in school? Collaborative divorce and mediation are always recommended, but if parents cannot agree on schooling, the Court can assign significant decision-making responsibility to one parent. The parent with this role was formerly called the custodial parent.

If one parent has already been assigned significant decision-making responsibility for the children, he or she will decide on issues of:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Religion
  • Extracurriculars

Can I Enroll My Child in School Without Custody? 

Illinois schools cannot legally ask for proof of custody or guardianship when enrolling a child in school. They will ask for proof of residency within the school district and that the child lives with you. Children cannot have more than one legal residence at a time. For enrolling a child in school without custody, the registering adult must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older 
  • Have legal responsibility for the child, including providing a regular, fixed, nighttime home 

There is no minimum requirement for how long a child must reside at any particular home to establish school residency. All of the proper registration requirements will have to be met, including providing any transfer forms, school records, immunization records, etc.

Who Can Get Parental Responsibilities for a Child?

Although parents are typically the ones awarded parental responsibilities, the Court can assign them to other parties (like step-parents and grandparents) under special circumstances. If another party is assigned parental responsibilities, he or she has the same rights for those responsibilities as the parent. In the case of parenting time, that means the day-to-day care of the child while the child is with that other party, and in the case of significant decision making responsibilities, that would include deciding what school the child attends, extracurricular activities, religion, and healthcare decisions.

Can the Child Make School Decisions?

The child is not allowed to make decisions regarding which parent to live with or which school to attend. However, the preferences of mature children are given considerable weight when based on sound reasoning. This is especially true when the reasons relate to the child’s best interest, including the continuity of education at the same school, the desire to stay in school with friends, and the desire to remain in the same environment.

Learn More with Conniff Law Offices

Whether you are considering a divorce or are looking to ensure you have your full rights as a parent, Conniff Law Offices can help. We believe in collaboration and mediation to ensure you can develop a parenting plan and enjoy life with your family without worrying about litigation.

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