How Can You Get Sole Custody in Illinois?
If you are an unmarried parent or you plan to divorce, you may have questions and concerns about child custody. In Illinois, the term “child custody” is still used informally, but the state does not officially use the terms custody and visitation when referring to parenting duties. Instead, parenting duties are divided into parental responsibilities, meaning a parent’s authority to make decisions about the child’s schooling, healthcare, and other important matters, and parenting time, or the physical time a child spends with each parent.
If you wish to obtain all of the parental responsibilities or parenting time, it is important to understand the circumstances under which Illinois grants sole custody.
Illinois Law Presumes a Child Should Spend Time with Both Parents
The legal presumption in all child custody cases is that the child is best served by having both of his or her parents involved in his or her life. Even if one parent is granted all of the parental responsibilities, the other parent typically still has the right to parenting time.
Of course, this idealistic presumption does not apply to every situation. Some parents are abusive, neglectful, or struggle with addictions or mental health issues that make them unsuited to adequately care for a child. If you believe that your child’s other parent is not capable of fulfilling parenting responsibilities or caring for the child properly during his or her parenting time, you may be interested in pursuing sole decision making. If your child’s other parent objects, you will need to present compelling evidence to the court to justify your reasoning.
Factors Considered by Illinois Judges in Custody Disputes
When determining the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, judges always focus on the child’s best interests. The judge will look for evidence that a parent is only seeking sole custody to “punish” or get back at the other parent. The judge will also consider the reasons that the parent is requesting sole custody and evaluate any claims of abandonment, neglect, abuse, or criminality.
In some child custody disputes, the judge appoints a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the child’s best interests. The GAL may visit each parent’s home, interview family members and teachers, and review police reports or medical records to gather information and form an opinion about the case. The judge is not required to follow the GAL’s recommendation, however, the recommendation does carry substantial weight.
Contact a DuPage County Child Custody Lawyer
If you wish to seek sole parental responsibilities or parenting time, contact a Wheaton child custody attorney from MKFM Law. Our team can help you build a compelling case for sole custody and ensure that your child’s best interests are prioritized above all else. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation today.