Understanding the different types of child custody in Illinois
When parents in Illinois divorce, they are required to make a decision about who their child will spend time with and when by devising a child custody plan. If the parents choose to leave the creation of this agreement up to the court, the court will determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. To do this, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that the court will consider the following factors:
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved
- How the child has adjusted to life in their current home, school and community
- The willingness of each parent to foster a loving relationship with their child
- The wishes of the child
- How the child interacts with their parents and their relationship with both their mother and father
Depending on all of these factors, the court will either award sole custody to one parent or grant joint or joint physical custody to both parents.
According to the American Bar Association, in sole child custody arrangements, one parent, typically referred to as the custodial parent, takes care of the child the majority of the time and is responsible for making decisions about their child. The other parent, often referred to as the noncustodial parent, will usually still have visitation rights and be able to spend time with their child during vacation periods and overnight visits.
When parents share joint custody after their divorce, the ABA states that both parents have the right to make major decisions about their child and may both also spend a significant amount of time with their child. The most common decisions that parents may need to make regarding their child will typically relate to where they attend school, healthcare, religious studies, methods of discipline, extracurricular activities and when they are allowed to do things like date and drive.
Joint physical custody
In comparison to joint custody, the ABA states that joint physical custody refers to where the child spends their time. It is important for divorcing parents to remember that in a joint physical custody situation, time does not have to be split equally between both parents. For example, with this type of child custody arrangement, a child may spend their weekends with one parent but live with the other parent during the week or spend every other week with one parent.
Awaiting a decision about child custody is often one of the most stressful aspects of the divorce process for parents. If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce, contact an attorney who can guide you throughout this emotionally trying time in your life.