Parental Responsibilities / Custody

Understanding the laws involving child custody is vital when engaging in a divorce or parentage action. It is important for a parent seeking custody of their child or children to know the laws and what the Court takes into consideration when determining custody rights. The best interests of the child are considered first and foremost. The considerations that follow are in accordance with the custody statutes of the State of Illinois.

Joint custody is joint decision making about a child’s or the children’s religion, education, and medical issues. A shared parenting time agreement is the preferred resolution if each parent’s living situation is adequate and the child will best benefit. If one parent is granted sole custody, the non-custodial party will always have visitation rights unless the court finds such visitation:

  • Is a serious danger to the child’s emotional stability or health, or
  • The child will not be protected in such an arrangement.

When determining child custody, it is important to be familiar with the family law statutes in Illinois. When the custody of a child is in dispute, the court will look at several influential factors including:

  • The child’s wishes
  • The parent’s wishes
  • The relationship the child has with each parent
  • Each parent’s living accommodations
  • The school and home adjustments the child would have to make
  • The mental and physical well-being of each parent
  • If the parents can encourage a relationship with the other parent
  • If there is history of sexual assault or molestation
  • If one parent is on active duty in the military, and most importantly
  • The best interest of the child

It is important to remember that if you and the other parent are awarded joint custody, then you must mediate any and all disputes that you have regarding your custody agreement. It is also important to keep in mind that The State of Illinois does not allow you to modify your child custody arrangement until at least two years after the original Custody Judgment was entered. The Court will make exceptions, however, if the current custody arrangement puts the children in any mental, physical or emotional danger.