Married couples by no means foresee themselves going through a divorce during the early years of their relationship. However, circumstances can change and sometimes it is best for both parties to go their separate ways.
Going through the divorce process is hardly ever an emotionless ordeal, and can be quite trying on both husbands and wives. Many items need to be carefully considered, such as how people divide their property, whether any spousal support payments are needed and whether parents will share custody if a child is involved.
Child Custody in Illinois
Determining the future care of a child is arguably the most important issue in many divorce cases. Courts must determine what situation will be in a child’s best interests, and consider many factors to give a child the best chance to thrive emotionally, physically and academically. The factors include:
- The physical and emotional health of the child and his or her parents
- The ability of both parents to provide love, affection and guidance
- The ability of both parents to foster a child’s growth emotionally, socially and academically (sometimes religious growth is considered as well)
- The age and earning capabilities of the mother and father
- The moral fitness of both parents
- The child’s wishes (if applicable)
Once a court considers these factors, among others, it has the authority to award custodyin several ways:
- Joint Custody: Parents can be awarded joint legal custody, joint physical custody or both. When parents share joint legal custody they work together to make decisions about a child’s education, health, religious affiliation and the overall upbringing of the child. In joint physical custody situations, a child splits his or her time living with both the mother and father, which is often determined by work and school schedules.
- Sole Custody: Parents awarded sole legal custody may choose how to bring up their child without input from the other parent and is legally responsible for their wellbeing. Sole physical custody is often awarded when one parent is unfit to care for a child due to financial circumstances, drug use or other considerations.
Parents do have the option to propose their own custody arrangement, but these plans still require court approval.
Anyone going through a divorce, anticipating a custody battle, or seeking a child custody modificationshould speak with an experienced family law lawyer immediately to discuss their rights and legal options.