When two parents decide to separate or divorce, the children are often left feeling confused and uncertain about the future. While this is a difficult transition for every member of the family, it is possible to provide your child with stability and continuity of lifestyle, both during and after divorce. One of the many ways that Illinois parents do this is with a thoughtful, carefully crafted custody plan.
Two types of child custody -- legal custody and physical custody -- will affect your final parenting plan, which will outline the authority you have in the life of your child and how much time you will actually have with your child. It is therefore important to understand the differences between the two and to work with an experienced family law attorney to protect your parental rights and interests.
Understanding your custody options
You have certain rights as a parent, including the right to regular access to your kids and the right to play an active role in their lives. However, that does not necessarily mean that you will share exactly equal parenting time with the other parent. If you are working on a custody plan out of court, there are two types of custody for you to consider:
- Physical custody: Physical custody refers to the time that a parent will physically be with his or her child. In a custody arrangement, it is wise to address all elements of physical custody, including vacation time, summer break and weekend visitation schedules.
- Legal custody: Legal custody refers to the parent's right to make decisions on behalf of the child. This authority would extend to all matters pertaining to health care, religious upbringing, education and other important matters.
In some cases, one parent will retain legal custody while still sharing physical custody with the other parent. In other families, both parents may agree to share legal and physical custody. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to a custody and parenting plan, but your final agreement should match the needs and factors unique to your family.
How you can keep control over your custody order
Many parents feel out of control during divorce, wondering how they can protect their relationship with their children. No one knows your family like you do, and it is possible to avoid litigation and maintain more control over your final custody order. Before you begin discussing terms of a custody arrangement or make any important decisions, you would be wise to first seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.
If you have questions about family law and divorce, please see our Family Law FAQ. Ryan Family Law P.C. advises and represents parents in Elgin, Illinois, and the surrounding areas.