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Does Sole Custody Still Exist in Illinois?

 Posted on April 06, 2018 in Child Custody

parenting-coparent-custody.jpgParents who recently gotten divorced or broken up are often left facing difficult decisions when it comes to how to make arrangements for raising their children. In recent years, changes to the law in Illinois have led to a more intense focus on cooperative parenting plans. Cooperative parenting—or co-parenting—may work perfectly fine in most situations, but there may be cases where one parent feels that he or she should have sole authority for making important decisions regarding their child. While the law no longer uses the term “sole custody,” Illinois courts do have the authority to give one parent sole decision-making responsibility if necessary.

Updated Language

Prior to 2016, Illinois law provided for two different types of child custody arrangements: joint custody and sole custody. Both of these referred to “legal custody,” which was the authority to make choices regarding the life of the child and his or her upbringing. Parents who shared joint custody were responsible for making important decisions together, while a parent with sole custody could make decisions without consulting the non-custodial parent.

In 2016, the Illinois legislature passed sweeping reforms to the state’s family law statutes. Among the biggest changes was the virtual elimination of the word “custody” as it applies to divorced and unmarried parents, including the phrases “sole custody” and “joint custody.” The intention of the change was to reduce the competition and bitterness often associated with the terms and to encourage more cooperation between parents.

Deciding When to Push

The new version of the law expressly encourages parents to work together regarding their children to the greatest degree possible. Unfortunately, cooperation is not always possible or in the child’s best interests. If the other parent is apathetic toward your child or in engaged in behaviors that could put your child in danger, you may need to take action and ask for sole decision-making authority. To be successful, you must convince the court that you will keep your child’s best interests as your top priority. You will also need to show that you are capable of making decisions regarding your child’s education, religious upbringing, health care, and extracurricular activities without the other parent’s input.

It is important to remember that decision-making authority does not have a direct impact on the amount of parenting time you will receive. As long as the other parent is not endangering your child, he or she is still entitled to at least some parenting time. If the other parent does present a danger, you will need to specifically request a limitation of his or her parenting time.

Call Us for Help

If you are interested in pursuing sole decision-making regarding your child’s life, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney for help. Call 630-352-2240 to schedule a confidential consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. today. We will assist you in exploring your available options and protecting your child’s best interests every step of the way.


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