Until January 1, 2016, Illinois law addressed disputes regarding child-related issues in divorce and parentage cases in terms of “custody” and “visitation.” The term “custody” referred to both decision-making authority regarding the children (called legal custody), and where the children lived the majority of the time (called residential custody). The term “visitation” referred to the time the parent who did not have residential custody had with the children.
If parents were required to consult with one another before making decisions regarding a child’s education, religious upbringing, extracurricular activities, and healthcare, they were said to have “joint legal custody.” If, however, one parent had decision-making authority over these areas, he or she was said to have “sole custody.”
If the children resided with one parent a majority of the time, that parent was said to have “residential custody” of the children. The other “non-custodial” parent had “visitation” rights. However, if the parents had reached an arrangement wherein both had time with the children exactly 50% of the time, then the parents were said to have “split custody” or “shared custody.”
As of January 1, 2016, that terminology has changed. Illinois no longer recognizes the terms custody or visitation whatsoever when referring to a parent’s rights. Those legal concepts no longer exist, though the term “visitation” does survive in the context of third-parties, such as with regard to “grandparent visitation.” Having said that, those words have been commonly used for so long that many people, attorneys and judges among them, will have a hard time eliminating those words from their vocabulary.