Andreano & Lyons
Attorneys at Law
Three basic types of custody arrangements in Illinois:

  • Sole Custody.  Is where one parent is the residential custodial
    parent and generally has the final authority with respect to
    major decisions regarding the children. It does not affect
    visitation. The other parent (the non-custodial parent) still
    receives customary visitation rights unless the visitation would
    pose a serious threat to the children.

  • Joint Legal Custody or Joint Parenting.  This generally comes
    out of a “Joint Parenting Agreement” that is negotiated
    between the parents. It is sometimes imposed by the court but
    that is becoming increasingly rare. Joint Parenting does not
    mean equal time with the children or that the children live in
    two places. Joint custody refers more to the sharing of
    decision-making between both parents regarding major life
    choices for the children such as the choice of schools, doctors,
    medical treatment or selection of extracurricular activities. Joint
    Custody requires a high degree of cooperation between both
    parents.  

  • Shared Physical Custody.  There are also situations where
    “shared residential” custody can be negotiated between the
    spouses but it is not always approved by the court. It generally
    requires that the parties live close to one another and have a
    very high degree of cooperation on the issues with the
    children. Shared custody is very different from Joint Custody
    so ask specifically about this if it is an issue. It can translate
    into a situation with there is no child support paid by either
    party or some sort of offset.

Which one is right for you? This is a question that both spouses
have to ask of themselves and get advice from an attorney or
through the help of a mediator. In some instances, the parents fight
over this issue where there is no sense to it.  We have seen
situations where the parents foolishly fight over joint custody of a 17
year old. In other words, they fight over the decision making for a
child that is really a young adult who already makes many of their
own decisions.

In the end, if the parents are at odds on the type of custody to be
awarded, they will likely be encouraged to resolve the issue with the
help of a mediator. While
Mediation is generally a mandatory
process if there is a court dispute, reaching an agreement at
mediation is not mandatory. However, if a judge has to decide it, the
parents are less likely to be awarded Joint Custody.
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