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Understanding Child Custody in Illinois

 Posted on June 05, 2015 in Family Law

child custody, custody dispute, Illinois family law attorneysEvery year in Illinois, thousands of individuals end their romantic relationships with their significant others. A large number of such couples are also parents who are now faced with determining arrangements regarding the care and support of their children. Among the most important of these considerations is reaching an agreement on child custody, and understanding the various aspects of custody is an integral part of the process.

Physical Custody

The concept of physical custody is perhaps best described as the child's living arrangements. In most situations involving unmarried or divorced parents, one parent, often the mother, will be given primary physical custody of the child. A parent with primary physical custody may also be known as the residential parent, since the child lives with that parent a majority of the time. A large number of family situations involve some sort of shared physical custody arrangement.

Legal Custody

Although both physical and legal custody are related to the well-being of the child, legal custody is more closely associated with the rights and duties of each parent and has nothing to do with the amount of time each parent spends with the child. Specifically, legal custody refers to the responsibility for decision-making regarding the child's upbringing, including choice of schools, medical care, religious training and any other important consideration.

Illinois law recognizes two distinct types of legal custody arrangements:

  • Sole Custody: One parent has been granted full authority on all issues related to the child. While the other parent may be granted visitation rights, and in fact, may even spend a great of time with the child, he or she is not required to be included in the decision-making process.
  • Joint Custody: Both parents accept responsibility for decisions regarding the child. A joint custody arrangement generally includes a Joint Parenting Agreement which specifies the particular duties of each parent, how decisions will be made, and how disagreements will be addressed. Parents with joint custody are not guaranteed equal time with their child, as legal custody has no direct bearing on visitation or parenting schedules.

The Details Matter

When developing a child custody arrangement, it is vital to keep the best interests of the child as the highest priority. Each parent, obviously, will have opinions on what is best for his or her own needs, but the child's needs must come first. Parents who are unable to reach a workable agreement, however, may be forced to take the issue before the court. Based on statutory considerations aimed at protecting the well-being of the child, the court may order whatever type of custody arrangement it sees fit.

In any child custody negotiation, a qualified lawyer can be your most valuable resource. At the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C., we are committed to helping families of all types provide the best possible future for their children. Contact one of our experienced family law attorneys in Joliet today for more information on what our firm can do for you.

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