Chicago Attorneys Answer Joint and Sole Custody FAQs

What do joint and sole custody mean?

Do Illinois courts impose custody arrangements?

What does the court consider when determining the "best interest of the child?

Does having joint custody mean our child has to live with both parents?

Is joint custody better than sole custody?

How can we be sure what custody arrangement is best for our family?




Q: What do joint and sole custody mean?

A: Joint and sole custody relate almost solely to decision-making. Joint legal custody in Chicago requires that parents work together, make decisions together, and communicate effectively. The primary decisions at issue relate to the education, health care and religion of the minor children. Whether a parent has sole custody or joint custody will not affect the visitation schedule for the other parent.

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Q: Do Illinois courts impose custody arrangements?

A: If parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, and do not come forward with information indicating otherwise, Illinois court assumes that each parent is fit and acts in the best interest of the child or children. It is always best to come to a custody arrangement with your former spouse so as to avoid a potentially unfavorable outcome.

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Q: What does the court consider when determining the "best interest of the child?"

A: The court determines what custody arrangement is in the child's best interest (in the absence of a parental agreement) using the following factors:

  1. The wishes of the child's parent or parents;
  2. The wishes of the child;
  3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with their parent or parents, siblings, or other relevant individual;
  4. The child's adjustment to their home, school, and community;
  5. The mental and physical health of everyone involved;
  6. The occurrence of ongoing or repeated abuse;
  7. Any physical violence, or threat of, by the potential custodial parent;
  8. The willingness of each parent to maintain a close relationship between the child and other parent;
  9. Whether one of the parents is a sex offender; and
  10. If a parent is in the U.S. Armed Forces, the terms of their military family-care plan.

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Q: Does having joint custody mean our child has to live with both parents?

A: No, it does not. As long as both parents are fulfilling the joint custody agreement and are working together when making decisions about their child, the child may live full-time with one parent, if that is the residential arrangement both parents agree to.

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Q: Is joint custody better than sole custody?

A: If you and your former spouse are comfortable discussing important decisions concerning your child and can come to an agreement, then joint custody may be the best option for your family. However, if you are not comfortable working with your former spouse it may be best that one of you have sole custody of the child or children.

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Q: How can we be sure what custody arrangement is best for our family?

A: Deciding who will be the decision maker for your child or children is a very important decision. The involvement of both parents is always preferred, but not always possible. Speaking with an Illinois family law attorney can help you and your former spouse make the right decision. Our dedicated attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP will work with you and your former spouse openly and professionally to determine the best custody arrangement for your family. Call us for an initial consultation at (312) 332-2915.

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