Mar 23, 2013 | Child Custody


Two of the most important terms for divorcing parents to familiarize themselves with are “sole custody” and “joint custody.” An innumerable amount of factors play a part in the determination of which parent will be awarded custody, if not both parents. However, regarding child support rulings, the ultimate determining factor is based on the best interest of the child. As the courts see fit, either joint custody will be awarded to both parents, or sole custody will be awarded to one parent. Every family dynamic is different, and while joint custody may be the most effective plan for one family, it may be completely toxic for another. The following description includes the differences between joint and sole custody, and may help you and your partner determine which parenting plan may be best for you.

(For the purpose of understanding the meaning behind the terms “physical custody” and “legal custody” in this article, please see the blog entitled Types of Child Custody: Part 2 for further clarification.)



Sole custody is often awarded to one parent in the event that both parents are unable to communicate effectively, or make decisions together regarding their child. As the sole custodian, one parent has both sole legal and physical custody, allowing said parent to make all decisions regarding medical, educational and religious upbringing issues. In the event that sole custody is awarded to one parent, this is not to say that the non-custodial parent will not be granted generous visitation rights. Each family dynamic is different, and will be treated appropriately by the courts. Regardless of which parent is granted sole custody, both parents will be entitled to medical, dental, child care, and educational records.


Joint custody is an arrangement between both parents that allows both mother and father to make legal decisions regarding the well-being of the child. This agreement requires a great deal of cooperation, compromise, and communication. Under a joint custody agreement, parents will share parenting responsibilities and privileges, including decision making abilities. Joint physical custody is seldom shared between both parents in the state of Illinois, although this is not an entirely impossible situation.

To sum up the nature of child custody, child custody arrangements can come in a variety of forms, including:

Sole custody – One parent is awarded both legal and physical custody

-Joint legal custody with primary physical custody awarded to only one parent

-Joint legal and joint physical, which is a rare occurrence in the State of Illinois.


Each family comes with its own unique situation, and consulting an experienced child custody attorney is often in the best interest of both the child(ren) and parents involved. For more information on your options regarding child custody, please feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.