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Understanding child custody in Illinois

For Illinois parents, going through a divorce can be nerve-racking. For many parents, child custody is the most important part of their divorce, but many people are unsure of the process itself. While every case is different, the state of Illinois provides clear and helpful information about the different types of custody and how child custody is determined.

There are two types of child custody -- sole custody and joint custody -- and they are fairly self-explanatory. In sole custody, one parent is given the power to make all major decisions for the child, including who the child's medical providers are, what school her or she will attend and what religion to raise the child under. Joint custody requires that parents make these decisions together.

When determining a child custody arrangement, the court will consider several aspects related to both the parents and the child involved. The court will consider whether one parent poses any danger to the child, how the child interacts with both parents and other family members, the health -- mental and physical -- of the parents and the child, and the wishes of both the parents and the child, among other things.

Once custody is determined, visitation may be granted to the noncustodial parent or, in the case of joint custody, the parent who does not provide the child's primary residence. There are no standard guidelines in Illinois for visitation, so it is often best for parents to work out a schedule on their own that the court can approve. If parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will decide for them.

Child custody is an extremely important and sensitive aspect of many Illinois divorces. Hopefully this brief overview helps some Illinois parents gain a better understanding of what to expect.

Source: cookcountycourt.org, "Child Custody Information," Oct. 23, 2013

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