Getting sole custody

PART 1 OF 2

What Matters

A custody dispute can result in the most bitter of divorce battles. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, a judge will decide for you. The Judge will consider “the best interests of the child.” In making her determination, the main issues judge will consider are the:

  • Quality of the relationship between the child and each parent,
  • Child’s adjustment at home, school and community,
  • Mental health of all involved,
  • Physical and emotional safety of the child, and
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent.

Joint legal custody & divorce

Joint legal custody is only awarded to parents who can communicate well with each other. An amicable divorce is considered a basic element of this. A judge will be reluctant to award joint legal custody to a couple who is not able to come to an agreement on their own. Thus, you should try to resolve this issue before trial.

Joint physical custody & divorce

Generally, Illinois family law judges do not award parents joint residential (physical) custody. It is assumed that children benefit from the stability of living in only one place.

In the old days, it was much more common for parents to be awarded joint residential custody. This was often overwhelming for the child. Every week (or six months) the children would have to pack up and move to the other parent’s home. The children would miss their old friends, schools and the lifestyle to which they to which they had become accustomed.

What is a parenting agreement?

If you have children and are getting divorced, you will need a Parenting Agreement before your divorce is finalized. You and your lawyer should make sure that the Parenting Agreement states:

  • Which parent has residential custody of the child;
  • Whether parents will share legal custody of the child and, if not, which parent gets sole legal custody;
  • How much time the child will spend with each parent (in Illinois, parents usually prefer that the child spend one weekday evening and every other weekend with the non-residential parent);

Grandparents & visitation in IL

This month’s Illinois Bar Journal has a very good article on recent developments in grandparent visitation law. Below is a really short explanation for non-lawyers:

You have probably heard that child custody decisions are made with the “best interests of the child” in mind. This rule generally only applies for parents. For example, the court will use the “best interest of the child” standard when deciding how much visitation a parent should have.