Parents must come to an agreement on child custody when they separate. These arrangements include how they will make major decisions moving forward (referred to as "legal custody") and how they will share time with the child (referred to as "parenting time," "timesharing," or "physical custody," depending on the state). If parents are unable to come to an agreement, courts will decide the best course of action based on state child custody laws.
All states, except Massachusetts, adhere to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This article provides a brief overview of child custody laws in the state of Illinois.
Child Custody Laws in Illinois
Illinois courts recognize legal custody and physical custody. The term legal custody refers to the right of a parent or guardian to make major life decisions, such as schooling and religious upbringing. The term physical custody refers to the decision of which parent or guardian the child lives with. As in other states, either one (sole custody) or both (joint custody) parents may have legal and/or physical custody.
Illinois child custody laws generally stipulate that the best interests of the child govern the court's determination of parental decision-making authority and visitation. Courts will consider the wishes of the child, taking into account the child's maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences.
A parenting plan generally recognizes the following:
- The continuity of the parent-child relationship typically is in the child's best interest.
- The needs of children change and grow as they mature.
- Custodial parents make daily decisions (including emergencies) while the child is with that particular parent.
- Both parents are to have access to a child's official records
Parenting plans also identify how children will spend birthdays and other holidays; transportation arrangements; when supervision is required; and other considerations.
Illinois Child Custody Laws: At a Glance
Learn more about Illinois child custody laws in the table below, along with links to related articles and resources. See FindLaw's Child Custody section for additional information.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Illinois Child Custody Laws: Related Resources
Get Legal Help With Your Illinois Custody Case
Determining a child's custody requires thoughtful decision-making. Sometimes it is not possible to resolve these difficult issues through mediation or agreement. If you are in this challenging situation, then you should turn to an experienced Illinois family law attorney for guidance on how to proceed.