How do Illinois judges determine joint custody or sole custody?
Determining child custody is typically the most highly-contested and heated issue one will encounter, for obvious reasons. Litigants who are encountering divorce (or a parentage action) for the first time are typically without the requisite knowledge regarding the differences between joint legal custody and sole legal custody of a child.
Joint Custody is predicated on two parents working together to co-parent a child. A joint custodial relationship requires good communication between the parents and the ability to work together to make important decisions regarding the child. For example, decisions concerning the child’s health, education, and religion must be made jointly by the parents, taking the child’s best interests into consideration. A stipulation between parties as to joint custody will culminate in the entry of a joint parenting agreement, which outlines the respective rights and responsibilities of the parents when it comes to parenting their child. In the event the parties to a joint parenting agreement have a disagreement when it comes to decisions impacting the child, the joint parenting agreement will direct the parties to attempt to resolve the issue with acertified mediator, prior to returning to court. In the event the mediator is unable to resolve the issue with the parties, the last resort will be bringing the issue before a judge for adjudication.
In cases where parents are unable to work together to co-parent their child, one party will be awarded sole custody of the child. In these instances, one party will have the final decision-making authority when it comes to issues concerning the child’s education, religion and health care. The non-custodial parent is often allowed to provide input to the custodial parent regarding these important decisions, but in the event of a disagreement, the custodial parent’s decision will trump that of the non-custodial parent.
At The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., we excel in helping our clients navigate through highly-contested custody disputes and negotiating the terms of comprehensive joint parenting agreements. Regardless of the situation one may encounter when it comes to the custody of a child, we have years of experience in helping our clients achieve their goals.