Family Services - Terminology

The following terms may be useful to understand when working with the Department of Adoption and Family Supportive Services: 

  • Parenting Plan: a written agreement that outlines significant decision-making responsibilities, parenting time, or both.
  • Parental Responsibility: previously referred to as “custody.” This includes routine decision making with respect to the child, including short term decisions impacting the child’s health and safety and significant decision making of long-term importance.
    • Shared Parental Responsibility – previously known as “joint custody.”
  • Parenting Time: previously referred to as “visitation.” During parenting time, a parent shall exercise caretaking functions and has sole responsibility for making routine decisions and emergency decisions affecting the child’s health and safety.
    • Caretaking Functions: tasks that involve interaction with a child or that direct, arrange, and supervise the interaction and care of a child provided by others, or for obtaining the resources allowing for the provision of these functions:
      • nutritional needs,
      • night and morning routines,
      • play and extracurricular activities,
      • physical safety, transportation;
      • disciplinary matters,
      • developmental needs,
      • educational issues including communicating with school staff and supervising homework; and,
      • medical and dental appointments and arranging alternative care when needed.
    • Restriction of Parenting Time: a limitation/condition placed on parenting time including but not limited to “supervision” (i.e., the presence of a third person during a parent’s parenting time).
  • Right of First Refusal: if a parent intends to leave the child with a childcare provider for a significant amount of time, the parent must first offer the other parent the opportunity to care for the child.
  • Supporting Parent: the parent obliged to pay child support.
  • Recipient of Support: the parent receiving child support.
  • Relocation: when the child moves from their present location to a new location with the parent who has residential allocation. Generally, parent must provide at least 60 days written notice of intent to relocate and a copy of the notice must be filed with the circuit court.