How Is Primary Custody Decided In Illinois?

Are you preparing for a divorce or are you unmarried and want to obtain custody of your children? Understanding the complexities of Illinois child custody laws is essential so you understand your options. In this blog post, you will learn about the factors the court considers when deciding who gets primary custody.

If you have questions about your case, speak to one of our Schaumburg child custody lawyers at the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov. We employ skilled and dedicated child custody attorneys highly experienced with complex child custody cases. Call us today at (847) 241-1299, and we will outline your legal options and create a winning strategy.

Mothers Are Not Favored Over Fathers In Child Custody Decisions

Family courts in Illinois do not favor one parent over another based on gender. The verdict of the court is according to the child’s best interests. If the court believes the father can better safeguard the child’s best interests, he could receive primary custody.

Factors That Determine Child Custody

When determining who will have primary custody of the child, the family court will consider the child’s best interests above all else. Some of the factors listed in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that the judge will consider when making this critical determination are:

  • What the child wants, assuming they are old enough and mature enough to decide.
  • The ability of the parties to make decisions for the child’s benefit.
  • The mental and physical health of the parents and children.
  • How well the child has adjusted to their community and school.
  • How well the parents can work together, or how much conflict is between them
  • The needs of the child and the parents’ wishes.
  • The role that each party has had in how the child is raised.
  • How far the parties live from each other and the cost of transporting the child.
  • Whether there is a threat of domestic violence from either parent.
  • The ability of each parent to have a close relationship with the child.
  • Whether either party is a sex offender.

Additional Information About Obtaining Primary Custody In Illinois

The judge will consider the abovementioned factors to determine the child’s best interests. However, no formula exists to determine which party’s custody is best for their child. But unusual situations, such as a sex offender residing in the same home as the child or one of the parents having severe health problems, could be significant factors in how the court rules.

If a stepparent is trying to get primary custody, the court may assume that it is in the child’s best interests for the natural parent to have custody. The stepparent’s task will be to show the family court why being with their biological parent is not in the child’s best interests.

Also, the parents, as well as who the parents are dating or living with, will be a factor in deciding if the child will stay in that home. A child’s safety is critical when deciding on child custody.

Lastly, unless domestic abuse is possible, the family court will assume that the child’s best interest is served if both parties cooperate and are involved in the child’s life. However, the court will not automatically assume that joint custody is always in the child’s best interests. Situations can arise where one parent having primary custody would be preferred.

What If The Parents Are Unmarried?

If the parents are unmarried, the mother will have sole custody of her child until paternity has been established. This means the mother has full legal and physical custody, and the father must prove paternity through the court to have the same rights. After he has established paternity, both parents have equal custody rights and can enjoy parenting time unless the judge says it is not in the child’s best interests.

The Custodial Parent Cannot Move The Child From Illinois Without Permission

Unless the parent with primary custody has a court order, they cannot remove the child from Illinois. They must prove in court that the relocation is in the child’s best interests. The court will review these factors to determine if the move is appropriate for the child:

Whether the move will enhance the child’s quality of life and that of the parent.
If the proposed move is just a way to prevent the other party from visiting the child.
The other party can visit the child if the relocation is authorized.

Previously, getting the family court to allow relocation and remove the child from Illinois was difficult. In many cases, the custodial parent had to choose between a new job, spouse, and child. The process is less complex today, but the parent proposing the relocation must prove that the move is in the child’s best interests.

Common Myths About Illinois Child Custody

Child custody can be confusing and contentious, and it is easy to fall for misinformation online. Some common myths you should not believe include:

Mothers Always Get Custody

This is not true anymore. Illinois law makes no differentiation between men and women in family law decisions. Mothers and fathers are on equal footing for obtaining the majority of parenting time and parental responsibilities. But the court will often try to maintain the status quo if that is in the child’s best interests. So, if the child was usually with the mother more, the court might give her more parenting time or responsibilities.

I Will Have To Fight In Court For Child Custody

This is completely understandable if your blood runs cold at the thought of a courtroom fight. Most people in family law disputes do not usually want to wind up in court. The good news is there are many times when resolving the issue outside of court is possible. One potential solution that the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov can help with is mediation. With the assistance of a third-party negotiator, you and your ex may be able to decide the child custody question without courtroom tussles.

Siblings Always Stay Together

Child custody cases with multiple children can be more complicated. There is no rule that siblings will always live with the same parent. Depending on the circumstances and factors involved, siblings can be split.

The Judge Determines Who The Better Parent Is

The judge, by law, must allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time in a child custody case. The child’s best interests determine this. As noted earlier, the judge will review many factors when making this decision. The purpose of the exercise is not for the judge to decide who is the superior parent. Instead, the judge wants to ensure that the child has the best chance for a stable home life and will develop bonds with each parent. A child custody case is not a competition to prove who is the better parent.

Working Parents Do Not Get Primary Custody

A working parent has the same parental rights as one who does not work, especially if the one not working is able to do so. Remember, financial stability is crucial in determining the child’s best interests.

Mental Illness Means A Parent Is Unfit

There are few hard and fast rules in Illinois child custody matters. All cases are unique. Just because one of the parents has a diagnosed mental health condition does not mean they will not have primary custody. Overall, not one case aspect will definitely decide the matter. The same holds true if one of the parents has a substance abuse issue. If the parent currently receives treatment and has the issue under control, the court could consider this.

The Child Will Choose Which Parent To Live With

The child’s preference may be considered regarding child custody matters, but the court understands that the child may lack the maturity to entirely grasp what is in their best interest.

Once The Judge Decides, It Is Final

In a family law matter, the presiding judge will issue some form of final order. But this order is not always the last word on child custody. State law allows each parent to request modifications if there has been a material change in circumstances. Even if the primary custody case did not go in your favor the first time, you may not be stuck with this situation until the child is an adult. As the child ages, their needs will evolve. Changes in jobs and work schedules can be enough to request that the court make a child custody change.

Contact Our Schaumburg Child Custody Attorneys

Attempting to obtain primary custody of your children can be an immensely uncertain and upsetting time. However, the assistance of a qualified and experienced child custody attorney can ease the burden and give you a clear path forward. Our Schaumburg child custody attorneys at the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov will strive to resolve your child custody situation favorably in a way that reflects the child’s best interests.

We are also experienced with debt division, asset division, spousal support, estate planning, tax implications, and other common divorce issues. Contact our law offices today by calling (847) 241-1299.

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