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Four Reasons an Illinois Judge Might Award Sole Custody

Posted on December 16, 2021 in Divorce

IL family lawyerIllinois family law has been updated over the years to reflect the fact that children get the most out of life when they can have warm, supportive relationships with both parents. When parents decide to get divorced, children usually divide their time between each parent’s household even if their parents find it difficult to cooperate or get along. However, in some circumstances, it is not in the child’s best interests to spend time with one of their parents. In this blog, we will look at how Illinois defines child custody and examine some situations where a parent may be given full custody.

Custody vs. Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Illinois no longer uses the legal term “custody” and “visitation” when referring to the relationship with parents and children. Instead, the terms “parental responsibilities” (meaning major decision-making authority) and “parenting time” (time physically spent with the child) are used. When a parent has full custody in Illinois, that really means that they have total responsibility for the child. They make decisions about the child’s religion, education, healthcare, and daily activities. If a parent has visitation, that means they have parenting time where they are responsible for caring for the child’s needs within the parameters of the other parent’s decisions about education, etc.

When Could a Parent Get Full Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time in Illinois?

Although judges prefer to see children spend as much time with each parent as possible, there are circumstances where this would be inappropriate or dangerous. These include:

  • Abuse - If a parent has a history of abusing a child physically, emotionally, or sexually, a court may decide to keep that child away from the parent to keep the child safe.
  • Mental illness or addiction - If a parent suffers from a mental illness or substance addiction such that they are incapable of caring for a child, a judge may grant the other parent sole custody. To make a decision like this, judges will need access to the struggling parent’s mental health status and treatment plan, as well as any relapses or time spent in recovery.
  • Incarceration - If one parent is in jail, he or she simply cannot take care of a child. Parents who have been in jail can petition the court for a modification in the parenting plan when they get out, but the parent who is not in jail will likely have full parental responsibilities during the jailed parent’s incarceration.
  • Relocation - A parent who leaves the state for work or a new relationship could jeopardize their chances to spend significant time with their child. Depending on the distance, shared parental responsibilities may be impossible. Although a parent who lives far away may still get parenting time during the summer or holidays, the parent with the majority of parenting time will likely have full custody.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Plainfield, IL Custody Lawyer

If you believe the circumstances surrounding your divorce make it necessary for you to get full parental responsibilities and parenting time, the experienced Will County custody dispute attorneys with Reeder & Brown, P.C. may be able to help. We offer free consultations so you can review your case with us and see how we would create a strategy to protect your parental rights. Call us today to schedule a meeting by phone or in-person at 815-885-5980.



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