As a Rockford Child Custody attorney, I and this firm represent clients in a wide range of child custody matters including joint custody, shared custody, and sole custody arrangements. If you are going through a divorce in Rockford or the surrounding areas, it’s important to retain attorney that understands the various matters that can arise in child custody determinations.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “Illinois Divorce Act”) governs Child Custody issues in Illinois. Child custody issues are emotionally charged and often aggressively litigated. If you have minor children and are getting divorced, you need to understand what is meant by Legal Custody, Physical Custody, Joint Custody, Sole Custody, and Shared Custody; and what is best for you and your children.
Newly divorcing parents often misunderstand Child Custody under Illinois law, and the major ramifications that different custody arrangements can have for years. These include with whom your children will live, who will make certain types of decisions, and your ability to relocate. Common misconceptions include the belief that joint custody means children will spend half of the time with each parent, and that there will be equal decision making. This is not true.
If you are going through a divorce with minor children, here are several important terms you should understand.
Legal Custody refers to decision making authority. Physical Custody refers to where the children will live, and is generally tied to which parent will pay Child Support. The custody arrangement determines which parent will make what decisions, what matters require joint decisions, where the children will reside, the non-residential parent’s parenting time schedule, and whether Child Support will be paid.
In Illinois Joint Custody, Sole Custody and Shared Custody are the primary types of Child Custody arrangements.
Illinois courts generally prefer to maximize both parents’ ongoing involvement with raising the children. As a result, Joint Custody is initially presumed. The Illinois Divorce Act does not define what Joint Custody is other than that it is based upon a Joint Parenting Agreement. Joint Custody requires the parents to be able to communicate and cooperate with the upbringing of the children.
Joint Custody does not imply that the children will live with each parent an equal amount of time. More typically one of the parents is indicated as the children’s “Primary Residential Custodian” with the other Non-Residential Custodian parent typically paying Child Support and having a visitation schedule. Joint Custody can be structured to specify decision making, parenting time and child support in a customized plan.
Sole Custody means that one of the parents has the sole authority to make ALL the decisions regarding the upbringing of the children. The sole custodian will also be the physical custodian, with the other parent having visitation.
Sole Custody is not presumed and will generally only be awarded where there is evidence of past abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a clear inability of the parents to cooperate. If any of these factors is present, we will aggressively fight for you to be awarded Sole Custody.
Shared Custody is relatively new under Illinois law and is a form of Joint Custody where typically the children spend almost equal amounts of time with each parent, both parents live in the same school district, and Child Support may not be paid.
Depending upon the facts such as the age of the children, the likelihood of either parent ever relocating, the parents’ ability to closely communicate and cooperate; Shared Custody may provide the best custody arrangement.
Nothing is more stressful than arguing over the custody of your children. Nonetheless, a detailed and customized parenting plan must be established. We can help. We know the issues that must be addressed. We will fight aggressively for a fair custody arrangement.
The following information links are provided to pages that explain more about specific aspects of child custody in Illinois: