Calabrese Associates, P.C.

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Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody in Illinois Divorce and Family Law Cases

DuPage County child custody lawyerDuring a divorce, child custody is often one of the most important concerns that a couple will need to address, but it can also be one of the most divisive issues. When the relationship between parents has broken down, they will be unlikely to agree about what is best for their children, and each parent may believe that they should be granted sole or primary custody. Those who are going through a divorce will need to understand how the law applies to their situation, and by working with an attorney, they can ensure that their parental rights will be protected while also arguing for what is in their children’s best interests.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Child custody consists of two separate, but related, issues. Legal custody, which is known in Illinois as the “allocation of parental responsibilities,” addresses the decisions parents make about their children’s lives, including their education, the medical care they will receive, religious practices or training, and the extracurricular activities they will participate in. Physical custody, which is known as “parenting time,” is the time children will spend in the care of each parent. During their parenting time, each parent will have sole responsibility regarding the routine decisions about children’s day-to-day lives, as well as the right to make emergency decisions about children’s health and safety.

While it is possible for one parent to be granted sole legal custody, courts usually believe that it is in children’s best interests for both parents to be involved in children’s lives, and parents will usually share parental responsibilities. However, different areas of responsibility may be allocated solely or primarily to one parent in some cases. For example, if only one parent had been involved in the children’s education during their marriage, such as by helping with homework and attending parent-teacher conferences and school events, that parent may be allocated sole responsibility in this area.

When it comes to parenting time, Illinois law presumes that parents are fit and able to care for their children, and courts will only place restrictions on a parent’s parenting time if there is evidence that children would be at risk of physical or emotional harm when in the care of a parent. Even if parental responsibilities are solely allocated to one parent, the other parent will still have the right to reasonable parenting time with their children.

Since joint legal and physical custody will be appropriate in most cases, parents will need to determine how they can work together to provide for their children’s needs. In many cases, mediation can help parents reach a divorce settlement, which will include a parenting plan that fully details the decisions they make about how they will share parental responsibilities and divide parenting time. This can help parents cooperate with each other and ensure that they will both play a closely involved role in their children’s lives in the years to come.

Contact Our DuPage County Child Custody Lawyers

At Calabrese Associates, P.C., we can help you create a parenting plan that will protect your parental rights while providing for your children’s needs. If you believe that you should have sole custody of your children, we can advocate on your behalf throughout the divorce process, helping you show that you are the parent that can best provide for your children’s best interests. To learn more about how we can help with your case, contact our Naperville divorce attorneys at 630-393-3111.



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