One of the most important pieces of any divorce proceeding is the child custody portion. During the child custody phase, the court determines how the parents will raise any children who resulted from the marriage. This can mean developing a custody arrangement where both parents share control of the children, or giving custody to one parent over the other. The high stakes of child custody decisions means that parents entering a divorce often look to divorce lawyers to make predictions about the outcome of child custody decisions. Unfortunately, Illinois law makes it difficult to predict how judges will rule when making custody decisions.
Types of Custody
There are two different ways to classify custody, and each is important for the purposes of divorcing parents. The first distinction is legal custody versus physical custody. Legal custody is the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child. As a parent that will affect how the child is raised, such as what school the child attends. Physical custody is a much more direct form of custody. Physical custody determines which parent has actual physical control over the child during their upbringing.
Custody can also be distinguished along the lines of sole custody versus joint custody. Sole custody occurs when the court awards custody to just one parent, while joint custody is the situation in which both parents share custody of the child. For instance, joint physical custody is a common outcome of divorce that likely involves the court developing a schedule where the parents trade off control of the children based on days of the week or month.
How Courts Decide Custody
Parents considering a divorce often want a clear answer to how child custody decisions will come out. Unfortunately, the law makes such answers difficult to provide. Illinois law charges judges with the duty to make custody decisions with the best interests of the child in mind, and gives them a large amount of discretion with which to make those decisions. However, that does not mean that the law provides no guidance. Illinois law includes a variety of factors that judges should consider when making child custody decisions, such as:
- The child's relationship with various significant people such as parents and siblings;
- How the child is currently situated within their community;
- Any acts of violence or abuse by one of the parents;
- A parent's membership in the armed forces; and
- Whether the custodial parent would be willing to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent.
Child custody is one of the most important pieces of any divorce. If you are considering filing for divorce and want more information about child custody issues, contact a skilled DuPage County divorce attorney
today to learn about your rights.