In Illinois and other states, there is a difference between having legal custody and having physical custody of a child. A parent with legal custody of a child, for instance, gets to make decisions for or about that child while physical custody refers to whom the child lives with. It may be possible for a parent to have joint legal custody without having physical custody of the child.
Children who are over the age of 14 are allowed to express a preference for which parent that they would like to live with. However, a judge has the right to overturn that decision. Parents may enter into a parenting plan which stipulates who gets to make certain decisions for the child. For example, it may be possible for one parent to determine where the child goes to school while the other gets to decide whether or not he or she requires parental supervision while at a sleepover or other social events.
A parenting plan generally accounts for the child’s changing needs as he or she gets older. It also generally recognizes that a relationship with both parents is typically in the child’s best interest. Both parents usually agree that the custodial parent makes emergency decisions when the child is with that parent despite both guardians having access to medical records.
Child custody cases typically revolve around the best interests of the child. When a court order is needed to obtain legal or physical custody, it may be worthwhile to talk to a family law attorney. An attorney may be able to obtain such an order in court as long as it does not interfere with the child’s development.
Source: Findlaw, “Illinois Child Custody Laws“, September 03, 2014