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March 03, 2015

How Is Child Custody Decided in Illinois?

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How Is Child Custody Decided in Illinois?

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Just about anyone who is a parent will tell you that their kids are the most important part of their life. That doesn’t change when a couple decides to end their marriage and go their separate ways. In fact, parents often tend to focus even more on their children when they are going through a divorce. Like most anywhere else in the country, there are two kinds of child custody arrangements in Illinois: sole custody and joint custody. Let’s take a look at the differences.

  • Sole Custody – sole custody does not refer to the child always living with one parent and never visiting the other parent. Rather, sole custody means that one parent will be allowed to make all the major decisions in the child’s life, without input from the other parent. That includes schooling options, medical decisions, religious choices and so on.
  • Joint Custody – likewise, joint custody does not refer to parenting time, either. While both parents will be able to spend time with their children, joint custody means that both parents will have input in all of those important life decisions.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that for many parts of Illinois, the default ruling is for joint custody. That means if you want sole custody you have to prove to the court why you should have it. However, in some southern parts of Illinois, the default ruling is for sole custody and if you want joint custody you have to prove to the court why custody should be shared.

In any case, there are several important aspects the court will look at as it determines which type of custody is best. The overriding factor in every child custody matter is always the best interest of the children. These are some, but not all, of the factors that the court will look at when making custody decisions:

  • The parents wishes as to who should have custody
  • The child’s wishes as to which parent he or she should live with
  • The child’s relationship and interaction with his parents, grandparents, siblings, or anyone else who could play a significant role in determining the child’s best interest
  • The health of both parents and the child
  • How well the child is adjusted to his/her current life situation, including school, friends and relatives
  • Whether or not there has been any kind of abuse from either parent toward the child or anyone else.
  • The income and financial situation of both parents

Obviously, child custody issues are extremely important and they can be the most difficult part of any divorce that involves children. At the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group we understand how child custody laws work in Illinois, including in the Chicago area. We know that you don’t want to lose your custody, support and visitation rights. If you would like to learn more about child custody laws in Illinois, then please visit our child custody page. You can also get experienced help by contacting us online or by calling 312-445-8830.

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