Joint and Sole Custody in Illinois
In any divorce involving minor children, one important issue that must be resolved regards each parent’s legal ability to make life decisions concerning his or her child. Under current Illinois law, this is referred to as joint or sole custody.
Joint and Sole Custody
Currently, Illinois Courts can issue joint or sole custody to a child's parents. Joint custody requires cooperation and communication between the parents. Additionally, a child's parents must work together to make major life decisions regarding their child’s health, safety and well-being.
Sole custody, on the other hand, means that only one parent has the right to make major parental decisions and does not need the other parent’s approval. However, during a non-custodial parent’s parenting time, he or she has the ability to make minor, routine decisions for his or her child as well as emergency decisions affecting the child’s health and safety. This is true regardless of whether that parent has any parental decision-making responsibilities.
Courts award custody in accordance with the best interests of a child. The criteria for determining whether parents get joint or sole decision-making responsibilities include:
- The child and parents’ wishes;
- The parents’ ability to cooperate and communicate in areas directly affecting the child;
- The distance between each parent’s residence;
- The child’s relationship with each parent;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community;
- The parents’ and child’s physical and mental health;
- A parent’s record of violence or abuse; and
- Any other factors relevant to determining the child’s best interests.
One parent may have sole custody of his or her child; however, this does not mean that the non-custodial parent will not get parenting time. Parenting time refers to the time that a child spends with a parent and can include weekend visits, summer vacations, holidays, visits during the daytime only or even supervised visits. Both parents are entitled to reasonable parenting time, as long as the time does not endanger the child’s health or welfare.
January 1, 2016 Changes
Illinois family law has recently been overhauled. Under Senate Bill 57, which will take effect January 1, 2016, custody decisions will be replaced with the allocation of parental decision-making responsibilities.
Judges will assign parents specific childcare tasks including decision-making responsibilities in areas such as education and religion, nutrition and health care, a child’s daily schedule and discipline. Moreover, these responsibilities will be allocated according to a child’s best interests and will be dependent upon the circumstances of the child’s situation.
Consult with a Knowledgeable Illinois Family Law Attorney for More Information
If you are considering divorce and need assistance with determining a custody arrangement, please call skilled Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson, at 847.873.6741, to schedule a free initial consultation.