When it comes to family law, every state does things a bit differently. For instance, in Illinois, child custody laws have been specifically designed to help reduce family conflicts. If you are facing a child custody case, here is a little Q and A regarding state custody laws.
What types of custody do Illinois courts recognize?
There are two types of custody that the state of Illinois recognizes: legal and physical. Those granted legal custody of their children have the right to make important life decisions for them. These are things like schooling, religious upbringing and accepted medical treatments - among numerous others. This type of custody may be granted to one or both parents - regardless of how physical custody is arranged.
Physical custody refers to with whom children will live. There are two types of physical custody: joint and sole. Joint custody means children will have the opportunity to live with each parent for a set period of time throughout the year; whereas, sole custody means that children will live exclusively with one parent. When one parent has sole custody, the non-custodial parent may request a visitation schedule.
If possible, the state prefers joint custody, as this allows both parents the opportunity to share responsibility in caring for their children.
What are parenting plans and how are they helpful?
When parents divorce or separate, fights over custody or visitation are common. A parenting plan helps reduce conflict by not only setting a specific schedule as to when each parent will have time with his or her children, such as for birthdays, holidays and summer vacations, but also by setting some ground rules regarding transportation, communication and other considerations. Parenting plans can be modified as children's need change over time.
Is a child's wishes regarding custody considered?
The short answer to this question is, yes. However, there is an age stipulation. Family courts in Illinois will consider a child's wishes regarding child custody when the child reaches 14 years of age. Even after the age of 14, though, a judge may overrule a child's decision if the judge believes that this is not in the child's best interests.
Does the state recognize a grandparent's right to see his or her grandchildren?
Yes. Grandparents in Illinois do have the right to request visitation in order to see their grandchildren.
These are just a few of the common questions and concerns parents in Illinois may have about child custody. If you are preparing to go through a custody case, either for the first time or in order to seek the modification of an existing order, an experienced family law attorney will be able to go into further detail about these specific topics and will be able to answer any other questions you may have about your family's situation.