Child Custody

FAMILY/DIVORCE LAW IS STATE LAW. THIS SITE GIVES YOU SOME GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN FAMILY/DIVORCE CASES IN ILLINOIS. THE INFORMATION HERE IS NOT COMPLETE AND THE LAW IN STATES OTHER THAN ILLINOIS IS DIFFERENT.

One of the biggest issues that parties face upon getting divorced or upon starting a parentage case, is who is going to have custody of the minor child(ren) of the parties. The issue of custody is often worked through by the parties by agreement, or by a Judge after hearing in which evidence is presented as to which party would serve the best interests of the child(ren) as custodian.

If the case goes in front of a Judge, then he must consider the following factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child(ren) with regard to custody.

The factors are as follows:

1. The wishes of the child's parent or parents as to the custody;
2. The wishes of the child as to his custodian;
3. The interaction relationship with his parent or parents, siblings or any other person which may significantly affect the child's best interest;
4. The child's adjustment to his home, school, and community;
5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
6. The physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child to potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person;
7. The occurrence of ongoing abuse as defined by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, whether directed against the child or directed against another person; and
8. The willingness and/or inability to facilitate and encourage a close, continued relationship with the other parent and the child.
9. Any other factor which is relevant to the best interests of the child.

After a custody order is entered, it generally cannot be modified within two years of its entry, unless it is by agreement of the parties or unless a party can show that the child faces serious endangerment by the present custody arrangement.

Parties also have the ability to choose between sole custody and joint custody. Sole custody is where one party has the right to make the decisions for the healthcare, education, religious training, and other decisions that a parent may make in raising a child. In joint custody, the parents will share the responsibility in making those decisions and will consult each other even though they are no longer married. In entering into joint custody, courts will consider the willingness and ability of the parents to cooperate and get along in making these decision in determining whether joint custody is appropriate.

People often have a misconception about joint custody in Illinois in that they believe it means that the children will be with one parent half of the time and the other parent the other half of the time.

This is not the case. In fact, most Court's in Illinois do not permit this type of custody arrangement, as they believe it is not in the best interests of the child as the child does not have one stable home, but rather, is shuffled between parents. Generally, in joint custody cases, there is a primary custodian, or the person who has the children for the majority of the time, and the alternate custodian, who has regularly scheduled visitation with the child. Again, joint custody is more about sharing decision making responsibilities rather than sharing the child.

If you have any further questions regarding child custody, please e-mail me or call me at 217-615-4053.