Snapshot of Illinois Child Custody Laws

The specter of a divorce creates a rivalry between parents, as each may be afraid that the other will seek sole custody of a child, thereby taking the parent out of the child’s life. Some may also be concerned that if they don’t have custody, they will have no say whatsoever in raising the child.

These are common misconceptions that unfortunately fuel the emotional battles between divorcing spouses (as well as unmarried parties disputing custody). This post will give a brief outline of Illinois child custody law, and highlight some of the factors that family courts consider in deciding custody disputes.

Under Illinois law, custody is divided into two spheres: legal custody, which involves the ability to make important decisions in the child’s life (e.g. religion, medical treatments, schools); and residential custody, which is where the child lives or spends a majority of time.

Parents can be awarded joint legal custody, where both parents share decision-making authority, or it can be awarded to one parent (sole legal custody). The same applies with residential custody.

When parents cannot agree on custody (legal or residential) a court will make a decision by weighing several factors that speak to what is in the child’s best interests, including (but not limited to):

– the child’s relationship with each parent

– the ability of each parent to care for the child

– the wishes of each parent

– the mental and physical health of each parent

– the child’s wishes (depending on the child’s age), and

– the occurrence of ongoing and repeated abuse.

If you have questions about child custody laws and how you may be affected, an experienced family law attorney can advise you.

Source:, Illinois Child Custody Laws

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Snapshot of Illinois Child Custody Laws