Custodial agreements can be long and complex and vary a lot from case to case. That’s why it’s critical that you become familiar with the various components of a custodial agreement, as well as the legal language involved. For example, consider the concepts of legal and physical custody, which several states establish as two separate legal terms. Often, people only think of custody in terms of where the child is physically located and imagine that custody battles are generally focused now determining the child’s primary residence and discussing how many weekends and holidays are awarded to the other parent. While residence and visitation are certainly significant parts of child custody, they are far from the only ones involved.

Defining Legal & Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to the parent who will take care of the couple’s children most of the time and whose home will serve as the child’s primary residence. While it’s possible for a child to live solely with one parent throughout the entirety of the year, it’s more common to have split arrangements. In those cases, the other parent has joint physical custody if the time is equally split between the two households and secondary physical custody if they only house the child for brief visits.

Legal custody is in reference to make decisions for the child’s health and wellbeing. This includes but is not limited to decisions regarding education, extracurriculars, physical medical care, counseling, religion, and more. Oftentimes despite an unequal balance between the parents in terms of living arrangements, both parents are awarded joint legal custody, allowing them an equal voice to work together in deciding what’s best for the child. However, if this is consistently a point of conflict, the judge may choose to grant sole legal custody to one parent instead.

Examining Legal & Physical Custody in Illinois

For Bloomington residents, the discussion is a little different because, as of 1986, Illinois law does not make any distinctions between legal and physical custody. Instead, there are simply two types of custodial arrangements available in the state: joint custody and sole custody. To further clarify the intended impact of such a change, in 2016, the decision was made to replace the term custody with decision-making. The goal of Illinois courts is that parents prioritize making coordinated, positive decisions for the children involved instead of focusing solely on living arrangements or other individual aspects of the agreement. Given these changes, it’s critical to have a thorough understanding of all the details covered under joint custody and sole custody agreements.

Joint Custody or Decision-Making in Illinois

This is the more likely outcome of a custodial hearing. However, it’s important to point out that the term “joint custody” or “joint decision-making” can encompass a wide variety of arrangements. For instance, the child may spend significantly more time with one parent than the other. In fact, in most cases involving joint custody, the courts will appoint one parent to be the primary residential custodian; however, that has no effect on decision-making power. The label merely references the fact that both parents have an equal voice in determining their child’s future. After further discussions, the parents may determine to split some of those responsibilities as well. If one parent happens to work at the child’s school, the other parent may decide that they are more qualified to make decisions regarding education and tutoring.

If parents with joint custody disagree on an important issue, it may be time to call in the child custody lawyers. They may seem somewhat excessive, but the child custody lawyers at Stange Law have years of experience mediating these exact sorts of conversations. They are trained to assist the parents in successfully working through the conflict and ultimately settling on what is best for the child. Unfortunately, sometimes one parent is determined to argue for argument’s sake, refusing any attempts at compromise. In the event that a mutually-agreeable resolution cannot be achieved, your child custody lawyer will present your case to the court and demonstrate why your decision is more appropriate for the child’s wellbeing.

Sole Custody or Decision-Making in Illinois

If a joint arrangement is ineffectual, the judge may reverse their previous decision and award sole custody to one parent instead. This can also occur in cases where the other parent is negligent, abusive, or has no interest in retaining parental rights. This means that the parent awarded sole custody has full control in regard to deciding what is best for the child, without legally having to consult anyone else. It’s still possible for the other parent to have regular visitation rights, but they are no longer considered a custodial parent for legal purposes.

If you’re in search of a Bloomington, IL child custody lawyer who can help you tackle the intricacies and details of custodial agreements in Illinois, Stange Law Firm can help. To schedule your first consultation, contact us by filling out our online form, or call us at 855-805-0595.