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Joint vs. Sole Custody in Illinois

Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneys, sole custodyJoint custody and sole custody are two terms that are commonly discussed during a divorce case when a child is involved. However, many parents are unaware of what each term entails and how each can impact visitation, decision making ability, and support following a divorce.

Joint Custody

The language within 750 ILCS 5/602.1 defines the terms of joint custody in Illinois. Joint custody means that both parents will share custody of the child, but it does not mean that the time spent with each parent must be equal.

Typically, joint custody is determined through a joint parenting agreement that has been worked out by both parents and addresses each parent’s rights, responsibilities, and time sharing. If the court agrees with the terms set forth in the arrangement, then it will be ordered through a joint parenting order. 

Sole Custody 

Sole custody means that only parent is considered to be the custodial parent of the child—most or all of the time is spent with that parent, and that parent retains the rights to make all decisions regarding his or her child’s welfare. Visitation by the other parent is allowed in sole custody situations, but the circumstances are often determined by a judge.

Determination of Custody Type

If parents disagree about what type of custody would be best for their child, then the court must make the decision. The court determines whether joint custody would be proper over sole custody by one parent by looking at the child’s best interests, the parents’ ability to effectively cooperate and communicate, the residential circumstances of each parent, and any other relevant factors to the discussion. However, it is important to note that unlike many other states, Illinois does not presume that joint custody is in the best interest of a child.

For petitions regarding sole custody, a judge will look at what is in the best interests of the child. Found in 750 ILCS 5/602, these factors include:

  • The wishes of the parents’;

  • The wishes of the child;

  • The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may affect the child’s best interests;

  • The child's adjustment to home, school and community;

  • The mental and physical health of everyone involved;

  • Any physical violence by a parent either directed at the child or someone else;

  • Domestic or sexual abuse by a parent;

  • Willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate a close and continuing relationship;

  • Whether a parent is a sex offender; and

  • Terms of a military family-care plan if one parent is being deployed. 

You Need a Family Law Attorney

If you or a loved one is currently facing a child custody dispute in Chicago or the western suburbs, please contact our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today. Our team is experienced in issues of child custody and other family law concerns, and we can provide you with a free and confidential review of your case.

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