Originally published: April 29, 2015 —- Updated: September 2, 2022
UPDATE: Parents who get divorced or break up often face many complex legal issues related to child custody. To make the situation even more complicated, child custody laws change frequently. In 2022, Illinois no longer describes child custody in terms of physical and legal custody or visitation.
The way divorced and never-married parents care for their children is broken down into two categories: “Parenting time” is the time each parent spends with the child. “Parental responsibilities” refers to the responsibility for making major decisions about the child’s welfare, including education, medical care, and religious upbringing.
Some parents allocate all of the parental responsibilities to one parent. In other families, the parents share some or all of the responsibilities. Parenting time and parental responsibility arrangements are detailed in a parenting plan, which is submitted to the court for approval. The parent with the majority of the parenting time, meaning he or she spends the most amount of time directly caring for the child, is the recipient of child support. The parent with less parenting time pays child support.
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Child custody can be complicated. You can potentially go from spending every day with your child, fully immersed in every moment of his or her life, to seeing him or her once a week and having to comply with your former partner’s decisions regarding his or her care after your divorce.
This is why it is so important to understand every element that goes into a custody decision and how the court’s ruling can dictate the level of involvement you have with your child. Every custody arrangement is unique and the court does its best to tailor each one to the best interest of the child in question, as required by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Factors that the court considers when developing child custody arrangements can include each parent’s income and spousal maintenance obligation, the relationship the child has with each of his or her parents, and the child’s relationships with any other members of each household. You can learn more about how custody arrangements are developed by talking with an experienced family attorney before going to court to work out your child’s arrangement.
Physical vs. Legal Custody
There are two types of custody that you and your partner may be awarded: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the house where the child resides. Legal custody refers to the right of the parent to make important decisions on the child’s behalf, such as where he or she will attend school, decisions regarding his or her medical care, and the religion in which the child will be raised.
Joint vs. Sole Custody
Both physical and legal custody can be shared between parents or given to only one parent. When parents have joint physical custody, the child spends part of the week or month with one parent and the other part with the other. With sole physical custody, the child lives with one parent full time and may visit with the other, according to the court’s visitation order if one is in place.
Joint legal custody of a child means that both parents have a say in the important decisions in a child’s life. Sole legal custody requires that the parent without legal custody comply with the custodial parent’s choices.
A parent can have any combination of the above custody arrangements. It is possible for a parent to have sole legal custody of a child, but joint physical custody of him or her. Likewise, a parent can have both sole legal and physical custody or joint legal and physical custody of his or her child.
Experienced Custody Attorneys in Kane County
Working out a custody agreement with your former partner can be confusing and exhausting. You can make this process must less stressful by working with an experienced Kane County custody attorney. Contact Goostree Law Group to discuss the specific details of your custody arrangement. Our legal team can provide you with advice and representation. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options as a parent with a custody arrangement.