Divorced spouses or separated partners in Illinois are faced with a choice of whether to share legal custody of the children or to seek sole legal custody. While some parents want to make decisions on their own without having to consult with the other parent, sole legal custody is not appropriate for all situations and comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
Sole legal custody is generally appropriate when one parent is absent from the child’s life and situation. In that case, it is necessary for one parent to be able to make decisions on their own. When both parents are present, absent some compelling circumstances such as a complete inability to work together, it is best for both parents to be able to have their say in major matters affecting the children.
The sole legal custody arrangement does have its advantages such as greater consistency for the children and the ability to make quick and flexible decisions. However, it does not generally work when one parent is trying to gain sole legal custody solely for the purposes of shutting the other parent out of the picture. Courts will usually have a presumption in favor of joint legal custody, so the parent seeking sole custody will need to show a strong reason in order for the court to grant it.
Parents who need legal advice on whether sole legal custody is appropriate may speak with a family law attorney. A court will determine whether this is the necessary solution based on the best interests of the children. The attorney might advise on how to structure a custody agreement so that the parties can share legal custody. If that is not possible, the attorney may present the case to the judge for the court’s decision.