In any divorce involving at least one minor child, the parties’ divorce decree must define the custody and visitation arrangements for the child. Defining the word “custody,” however, is no simple matter. For instance, one person’s idea of “joint custody” can be quite different from another’s person notion of “joint custody.” Therefore, it is essential that the parties be aware of the definition of these terms in the state of Illinois.
Under Illinois custody laws, which are set forth in Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are several different types of custody. Physical custody refers to the home in which the child primarily lives. A parent who has physical custody of a child will generally direct the child’s daily activities and care for the child most of the time. On the other hand, legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make certain important decisions regarding the child’s life, such as educational, religious, and medical decisions.
In some cases, parents can cooperate sufficiently to have joint custody. A joint custody arrangement can involve joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or both. In a true joint physical and legal custody situation, a child spends relatively equal amounts of time with each parent, and the parents work together to make major decisions about the child.
In one common custodial arrangement, parents share joint legal custody, but one parent has physical custody of the child. The other parent enjoys liberal visitation with the child according to an agreed-upon schedule. This arrangement allows both parents to be involved in the child’s life in terms of decision-making, while still recognizing the realities of school, sports, and other activities that may make it difficult for an older child to spend precisely equal amounts of time with each parent.
If you’re divorcing in the Chicago area, and have children, you are likely to need the advice of an experienced DuPage County child custody attorney in order to determine the appropriate custodial arrangements for your child. With the help of your lawyer, you can work through these highly important issues with your spouse, and hopefully arrive at a custody agreement that is in the best interest of your child.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici