If you are a parent who is considering divorce, planning to end your marriage, or in the midst of the divorce process, one of your biggest concerns is likely to be how you and your spouse will share custody of your children. Each of you may have different expectations about how parenting issues should be handled and where your children will live, and determining how to resolve these disagreements can often be difficult. As you proceed with your divorce, you will need to be sure to understand how Illinois law applies to you and how you can create a parenting plan that will allow you to provide for your children’s best interests in the years to come.
Sharing Legal and Physical Custody of Children
Child custody involves two different areas of concern: the allocation of parental responsibilities (usually referred to as legal custody) and parenting time (often called physical custody or visitation). Parental responsibilities address the parents’ right to make important decisions when raising their children. These decisions include education, healthcare, religion, and activities that children will participate in. Parenting time includes any time that children will be cared for by either parent, including when they stay at a parent’s home or spend time with them at other locations.
Generally, family courts in Illinois presume that parents should share in the allocation of parental responsibilities. However, depending on how parents made decisions for their children while they were married, how well they are able to work together, and other relevant factors, sole or primary responsibility may be allocated to one parent in certain areas. For example, parents may equally share responsibility in the areas of religion and education, but one parent may have the right to make all decisions about children’s health and medical care....