What Are the Legal Ramifications of a Custodial Parent Being Hospitalized?

What Are the Legal Ramifications of a Custodial Parent Being Hospitalized?

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

If you have been allocated all or a majority of parental responsibility for your minor child, the possibility of becoming incapacitated and unable to care for the child can be an extremely concerning prospect. Whether you are simply wondering about how the court would handle such a situation, or if you have recently suffered a serious injury or debilitating illness that will require hospitalization, you may want to know: what are the legal ramifications of a custodial parent being hospitalized?

There is no single answer to this question since the consequences of a custodial parent being hospitalized will depend upon the particular facts of the case.

For example, is the hospitalized parent the only parent with parental responsibility, or does that parent share parental responsibilities — even if disproportionately — with the child’s other parent? And how long is the hospitalization expected to last? Our child custody attorneys in Chicago and Skokie, Illinois can evaluate the particular facts of your case and can help you to understand the legal ramifications of being hospitalized as a custodial parent and whether any additional steps need to be taken.

Do the Parents Share Parental Responsibilities in Any Capacity?

If you consider yourself to be the custodial parent, you have likely gone through a child custody case and know that the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act no longer recognizes the term “child custody” but instead provides for the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” If you have been hospitalized, or if you know you will need to be hospitalized in the very near future, the ramifications of your hospitalization will depend in part on whether you have been allocated all parental responsibilities or you share parental responsibilities in some manner with your ex.

A parent’s hospitalization can make it difficult or even impossible for that parent to exercise significant decision-making responsibilities for the child as well as the caretaking functions required as part of parenting time. Yet even if you have been allocated more of these responsibilities than your ex, if you do share both significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time, your ex may be able to take on additional parental responsibilities during your hospitalization.

If you do not share parental responsibilities at all because the court believed evidence existed to restrict parental responsibilities, it may be necessary for the court to locate a relative or guardian to step in temporarily to provide parental responsibilities.

How Long Will the Hospitalization Last? 

Another key question to consider is the length of the hospitalization. If a parent is only anticipating a relatively short hospital stay—a few days to even a few weeks — it may not be necessary to ask the court to change an existing parenting plan or allocation judgment if the other parent can fill in. However, if the hospitalization is expected to last for a very long time, or even indefinitely, it may be necessary for the court to modify the existing allocation judgment or parenting plan.

The party seeking the modification — which may be the other parent or another party if the other parent is not involved — will need to show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. In most cases, a custodial parent’s lengthy hospitalization will certainly amount to a substantial change in circumstances.

Seek Advice from our Chicago and Skokie Child Custody Lawyers

If you have any concerns about child custody or how to handle a parent’s hospitalization, our Chicago and Skokie child custody attorneys can assist you. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC for more information.