One of the central issues of any divorce is that of child custody. However, despite its importance to everyone involved, many people do not fully understand the different types and components of custody. For instance, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows for either joint or sole custody.
These two types of child custody relate to whether one or both parents have custody of the child, and they cover related issues like shared parenting time. Beyond this distinction, the law actually recognizes two different types of custody, physical custody and legal custody. Each of these two different types of child custody are important because each provide different rights with respect to the child.
Joint vs. Sole Custody
The legal distinction between joint and sole custody is one of how many parents have custody over the child. With sole custody, only a single parent has custody of the child, taking care of them full time. However, this may still include some forms of visitation. Additionally, a parent may be awarded sole physical custody with joint legal custody, a distinction that will become clearer later.
The opposite of sole custody is joint custody. In this child custody setup, the parents share physical and legal control of the child. While the law makes this an option to judges, it is not available to all parents. Instead, the court looks at whether it believes the parents will be able to cooperate in matters related co-parenting. This is because joint custody situations with uncooperative parents can often be difficult for the children to cope with. Notably, joint custody is not the same thing as having equal parenting time. As usual with family law, the court sets the parenting schedule in accordance with what the court perceives to be the child's best interests.
Physical vs. Legal Custody
The other distinction that the law draws in relation to child custody is that of physical custody versus legal custody. Physical custody is the type of custody that people most often think of when they think of custody. It refers to the physical control over the children, issues like whose houses they stay at, when, and similar concerns. Legal custody is a more nebulous right, but one that is just as important. Rather than dealing with the physical issues of raising a child, legal custody pertains to control over decisions which need to be made about the child's upbringing. For instance, legal custody gives parents a voice in decisions about what school the child should attend and what religion they should be raised in.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce or have recently been served with divorce papers, reach out to an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney
today. Our team of experienced professionals is here to represent your rights and to help you understand this complex legal process.