Making decisions regarding the well-being of children can be difficult enough when parents are married, but it can be even more difficult after a divorce. After the divorce many decisions need to be made, but the parents are no longer living together and may not get along very well. So, there needs to be an order determining who will be making those decisions for the children and that is what a child custody order does.
The court has to make a decision between sole or joint custody. Sole custody means that only one parent will be responsible for making all the decisions and joint custody means that both parents have to work together to make the decisions.
When determining whether the parents should have joint custody, the judge looks at a few factors in making the decision. The main factor is whether the parents are capable of cooperating with each other regarding parenting. This simply means that each parent is capable of following a joint parenting order. The parents do not need to demonstrate they can cooperate about other issues not involving the children.
The judge will also look at the homes of both parents and other relevant factors. Ultimately the judge needs to ensure that joint custody is in the best interest of the child. It is also important to note that just because parents have joint custody, it does not necessarily mean that the parents will have equal parenting time. The judge will have to make a decision regarding parenting time separate from the child custody determination.
Child custody determinations are very fact specific decisions in Illinois. Each family situation is different and therefore each custody decision is unique to that family. Child custody determinations can also be complicated as they are based on general factors and not bright line rules. Experienced child custody attorneys understand the nuances of a child custody determination and may be a useful guide.
Source: Illinois General Assembly, “750 ILCS 5/602.1,” accessed on June 22, 2015