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Is Sole Custody Still Possible in Illinois?

 Posted on February 28, 2017 in Child Custody

Naperville family law attorneysIt is generally accepted by child development professionals and other experts that a child typically fares best after a divorce if both parents continue to play active roles in the child’s life. As a result, child custody laws around the country—including here in Illinois—have evolved to create a more cooperative approach to post-divorce parenting. While the trend toward effective co-parenting is overall a good thing, there are still some situations in which one parent may have good reasons to seek full control over all decision-making regarding his or her child.

Changing Terminology

The sweeping family reforms that went into effect in Illinois last year updated a number of statutes related to divorce and child-focused issues. One of the most noticeable changes—at least to the outside observer—was the elimination of the term “child custody” along with the use of the word “custody” to describe parenting roles or situations. The amended law no longer refers to sole custody or joint custody arrangements, nor does it label either parent as the custodial or non-custodial parent. Instead, the law refers to the entire process as the allocation of parental responsibilities. The intent of the change was to minimize battles over titles and names so that the parents could better focus on what is best for their child.

Sole Decision-Making Responsibilities

An arrangement similar to that which was once known as sole custody is still possible under the new law. Instead of being given “sole custody,” however, one parent may be granted all of the responsibility for making significant decisions regarding the child’s life. There is no particular label assigned to this type of arrangement; it simply means that one parent alone is responsible for addressing concerns related to the child’s education, health and medical care, religious upbringing, extracurricular activities, and any other issues that could have a long-term effect on the child.

Parenting Time Considerations

When deciding that it is in the child’s best interest to give all of the decision-making authority to one parent, the court does not automatically presume anything about the other parent’s right to spend time with his or her child. Parenting time is a separate—albeit related—concern. Even a parent with no significant decision-making responsibilities has the right to reasonable parenting time unless exercising that right would present a danger to the child. Of course, if the court awarded sole authority for making decisions to one parent because the other parent showed a lack of interest in the child’s life or showed patterns of abusive behaviors, the resulting parenting time arrangements would likely reflect those concerns as well.

If you are in the midst of a dispute regarding parental responsibilities, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-352-2240 to schedule a confidential consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. today.


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