A court will determine custody based on what is in the child’s best interest. To determine what is in the child’s best interest, the court will consider all of the following factors:
1) The wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to his/her custody
2) The wishes of the child
3) The interaction of the child with his/her parents, siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest (i.e. a parent’s spouse)
4) The child’s adjustment to his/her home, school and community
5) The mental and physical health of the parents and the child
6) The physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person
7) The occurrence of ongoing or repeated abuse (i.e., physical, verbal, emotional, etc.) whether directed against the child or directed against another person
8) The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child
9) Whether one of the parents is a sex offender
The court will not consider the conduct of a parent that does not affect his/her relationship to the child.
In a divorce proceeding the non-custodial parent is entitled to reasonable visitation rights. In order for these visitation rights to be restricted in any manner (including supervised visitation), the visitation must seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health. Visitation may include routine visitation, holiday visitation and vacation time, but there is no “guideline” or “standard” routine visitation schedule in Illinois. If the parties cannot agree on a visitation schedule, the court will determine a visitation schedule based on what the judge believes is in the best interest of the child.
These same standards are not all applicable in non-divorce cases, and what is in the best interests of a child varies from case to case, so if you have questions or concerns about your own situation, please contact one of our skilled attorneys at (815) 893-0020.
Joint custody is not for everyone. It will be awarded only if the judge believes that the parents can consistently cooperate and communicate in matters that directly affect the child or children. Joint custody means that both parents make all the major decisions related to the child together. This includes but is not limited to where the child's education, religious upbringing, and the child’s medical/dental/psychiatric/optical care. Except in the case of a medical emergency, a parent with joint custody cannot make a major child related decision without the approval of the other parent. Joint custody does not mean the parties have equal parenting time. Typically, in joint custody, one parent will be given what is called “residential custody”. This just means that the child will reside mostly with that parent.
Sole custody means that one parent makes all the major decisions related to the child. This includes, but is not limited to, where the child goes to school, what religion the child is, who the child’s medical/dental/psychiatric/optical care providers are and what kind of medical/dental/psychiatric/optical care the child receives.
The term “custody” is often confused with the amount of time a parent spends with a child. Parents can have joint custody of child with only one parent having possession of the child most of the time. Likewise, a parent can have sole custody of a child and have possession of the child for the same amount of time as the other parent. In Illinois, legal custody concerns decision-making power regarding the major decisions in a child's life.