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Illinois law has preference for joint custody

Any couple in Illinois that faces the prospect of a divorce with minor children can understand the range of concerns that arise. The emotional well-being of the children, the changes in their daily lives and living arrangements and the relationships with each parent are among some of the top concerns indeed.

Making agreements for child support and child custody can become logistical as well as emotional battles. In the state of Illinois, the law has a stated preference for joint custody awards as it is believed that such arrangements are generally in the best interests of the children involved. There are, of course, exceptions such as when violence or abuse is present.

Understanding joint and sole custody in Illinois

Joint custody and sole custody are terms that are frequently used but may not always be fully understood. In the state of Illinois, custody in general refers to the ability of one or both parents to make any and all major life decisions for the child or children. Other states sometimes call this legal custody as a means of differentiating it from physical custody or any identification of with which parent the children will reside.

Life decisions that are considered part of a child custody agreement include the choice of schools, medical providers and religious affiliations and practices. In a sole custody award, only one parent is given the right to make such decisions. In a joint custody award, the court tasks both parents with working together to make all such choices for their children.

What criteria are used in a custody determination?

The law stipulates that the best interest of the children ultimately dictate a custody determination. Some of the concrete factors that play into a court’s decision include:

  • If the parents are able to cooperate well
  • Where each parent lives
  • The relationship a child has with each parent and other close family member
  • The child’s and parents’ mental and physical health
  • A past record of violence, abuse or neglect

The court may also factor in the choice of the children as well as the parents when making a final ruling on custody.

Custody is different than parenting time

Even when sole custody has been awarded, the non-custodial parent may still receive parenting time. This simply refers to the amount of time that a child is to be with a parent. This may be during the day only or include overnight stays. A parenting time determination will also include provisions for holidays and school vacations.

The importance of both parents

Mothers and fathers are both considered important to a child in Illinois-hence the state’s aim of awarding joint custody whenever possible and safe for children. If you are considering seeking a divorce and are in need of assistance with your custody arrangement, it is wise to speak with a lawyer who is well versed in this area of law.