Preparing for your child custody hearing in an Illinois courtroom or attempting to negotiate an agreement with the other parent will include researching the relevant information. Gathering and understanding this is information is a step towards achieving the child custody arrangement that will work best for the family.
Understanding custody and how it works
When parents negotiate child custody, they are seeking legal and physical custody. When a parent has legal custody, they are responsible for making the decisions that impact their child’s life, regarding education, health and religious upbringing, for example. Most often, parents share legal custody. Physical custody, however, addresses which parent the child will live with. Even if parents share legal custody, they might not necessarily share physical custody, as there are a variety of arrangements available, including:
- Shared physical custody
- Sole physical custody
- Bird’s nest custody
How do courts determine child custody?
Some parents can amicably reach a custody agreement, or they might use mediation to resolve their issues. In other cases, the court will decide custody for the parents. In all cases, the agreement must be filed with and approved by the court. In deciding child custody cases, the court will focus on ensuring the best interests of the child are protected. Other factors that the court will consider include:
- The child’s preference about which parent they want to live with
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- The home environment provided by each parent
- Any special needs the child might have, including developmental or medical
- Any allegations of domestic violence, abuse or neglect by a parent
- A history of substance abuse by a parent
In many cases, there might be a temporary child custody order issued during the divorce process. However, the final child custody order will be issued when the divorce is finalized. If in the future there are modifications of the order needed, the state’s procedures should be followed, including providing evidence on the reason for seeking the modification.