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“Caretaking functions” during parenting time

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2023 | family law

Illinois courts recognize that raising a child is a shared responsibility among divorced couples. Following the agreement provisions, the judge allocates parental responsibilities composed of significant decision-making and parenting time.

During parenting time, parents can spend their moments with the child performing “caretaking functions.” These tasks involve both parents interacting with the child, meaning they must also supervise other people who care for the child and provide the resources to make it happen.

Knowing these specific duties can guide parents on how to protect their child’s welfare.

Fulfilling caretaking functions

While family circumstances vary, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides a benchmark list of caretaking functions.

  • Daily routines: Meeting nutritional demands, managing rest and activity times, staying on top of extracurricular activities, providing transportation, and attending to hygiene and potential injuries
  • Developmental needs: Teaching motor and language skills, toilet training, maturity and self-confidence
  • Disciplinary measures: Instructing manners and behaviors, and assigning and supervising chores
  • Educational requirements: Finishing homework, and communicating with teachers or counselors
  • Interpersonal relationships: Forming and keeping appropriate familial and friendly bonds
  • Medical appointments: Going to necessary check-ups
  • Moral reminders: Guiding ethical decision-making
  • Care alternatives: Arranging for a babysitter or an entrusted family member

While this is an extensive list of day-to-day plans, it may still not apply to all family situations. For example, in the case of a disabled child, parents must deal with the child’s unique health concerns. Depending on the required treatment, medical appointments may involve long-term rehabilitative care.

Further, there may also be age-appropriate caretaking functions. Case in point, a toddler’s physical, emotional and social needs differ from that of a preschooler.

Being there for the child

Parents must ensure they maximize their parenting time wisely by performing their caretaking functions well. By doing so, their child can connect with them on a more meaningful level. If disputes arise, especially ones that endanger the child, parents must consult their legal counsel, who can advocate for their and their child’s interests.