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Sole Custody or Joint Custody?

Posted on in Divorce

Under Illinois child custody law, the idea of custody encompasses two sets of rights: physical custody, which is the responsibility for the child’s personal care; and legal custody, which involves making major decisions about the child’s life. Custody can be shared by both parents, or vested only in one parent, depending on what a family law judge decides is best for the child.

For all court decisions relating to children, the central consideration is the best interests of the child. Many factors go into determining the best interests, including the wishes of the child, the wishes of the parents, the quality of the relationship of the child with her parents, siblings, or other close relatives, the child's level of adjustment to her home, community, and school, the mental and physical health of the child and parents, physical violence, threats, or other abuse by the parent, of the child or others, and the willingness of each parent to cooperate to allow for a relationship between the child and the other parent to continue and grow.

The default assumption for courts is that the involvement of both parents is best for the child, but this can be disproven if one parent raises valid concerns about the negative physical, mental, moral, or emotional impact of the other parent on the child. Based on their findings, a court will decide to either grant sole or joint custody over the child.

Joint Custody in Illinois

Joint custody involves both parents sharing custody of their child, but it does not necessarily mean an equal split of parenting time. Instead, the amount of time that a child will spend with each parent is determined through one of two potential ways: a joint parenting agreement or a judge’s order.

If both parents agree on a schedule that is convenient for them and the child, they can submit a joint parenting agreement, laying out their respective rights and responsibilities to a court for approval. A judge will review it and if it furthers the child’s best interests, they will issue a joint parenting order to memorialize the parents’ agreement.

If parents cannot come to an agreement outside of court, either independently or with the help of a family lawyer, a judge will decide on a course of joint custody for them. Alternatively, a judge may find that a child’s best interests would instead be served by granting one parent sole custody, while reserving visitation rights for the other parent.

Sole Custody

Sole custody involves only one parent having responsibility for the child and major decisions relating to the child’s life. The other parent will still be able to have reasonable visitation time, but typically they will not have as much of a say in matters relating to legal custody.

Getting Help from a Dedicated Custody Lawyer

If you are going through the uncertain process of fighting for custody rights over your child, you need a knowledgeable DuPage County family attorney to stand at your side and fight for the best interests of you and your child. Contact Davi Law Group, LLC today for a free consultation on the way forward in settling your custody issue.

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