Law Offices of Robert M. Kaplan, P.C.
Schaumburg Family Law Attorney

What You Need to Know About Child Custody

March 23, 2016
Posted By: Robert M. Kaplan
Child Custody Law Schaumburg IL

Regarding child custody, Illinois is like other states in that it tries to make custody decisions based on what is best for the child. If you are going through a divorce, here are some details you should know about child custody from your Hoffman Estates family lawyer in Schaumburg.

What "Custody" Means in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, there are two significant rights of custody:

  • The personal care of the child. This is also commonly referred to as physical custody.
  • The right to make decisions for the child. These decisions include medical needs, education, religion, and other details pertaining to the child's welfare. This is commonly referred to as legal custody.

In Illinois, as in most states, parents can share custody (joint custody), or it can be given to one parent (sole custody).

Factors That Are Considered in Child Custody Decisions

It's no secret that divorce causes emotions to run high, but the court does not make custody determinations based on which parent might be considered "better" or "worse." The most crucial factor is determining the child's best interests, and some of these include the following:

  • The wishes of the parents as well as the child
  • The interaction of the child with the parents
  • The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and others
  • The adjustment of the child to the situation, including home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of those involved
  • The presence of violence or threats, or domestic violence, by a potential custodial parent
  • Whether either parent is a convicted sex offender
  • Matters of deployment if the family is military

It is important to remember that every custody case is unique, and the court may consider other factors when making a custody decision.

Other factors, such as physical abuse and substance abuse, will also come into play. If the parents can agree on their own, the court has a right to approve that plan if it believes it serves the child well. Of course, if they cannot agree, the court has the right to make a decision that it feels is best for the child.

Types of Custody Arrangements That Are Available

In most states (including Illinois), there are two types of custody: legal and physical. The former refers to decision-making issues regarding the child; the latter refers to where the child resides. Courts can also award joint or sole custody to both parents—or either parent.

Although many states favor joint custody, Illinois is not one of these unless it is determined that joint custody is indeed in the child's best interest. Except for situations of domestic violence, however, the courts like to maintain minimal involvement and urge the parents to cooperate in deciding what custody arrangement best serves the child's well-being.

In the past, custody decisions were weighted more heavily in favor of the mother, but that is no longer the case, and both the mother and father have equal rights.

A child's wishes are considered when it comes to matters of custody, but the weight they are given depends in large part on the child's age and other best interests of the child, including staying at the same school and being in the same environment.

Who Pays Attorney Fees in Child Custody Cases?

In family law cases, Illinois courts have discretion toward attorney fees, but a court's decision ultimately depends on the circumstances and facts of your unique case. However, the general rule is that each side pays its own attorney fees. 

Seek Legal Advice in Hoffman Estates

It's always best to seek the advice of a knowledgeable child custody lawyer in matters of child custody. To discuss child custody in Hoffman Estates, contact us today.

*In the state of Illinois, the terms "child custody" and "visitation" are no longer formally used and are being replaced by "parenting time" and "parenting responsibilities."

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