In Joliet and Will County, Illinois, joint custody in a divorce means that both parents may have maximum involvement in the lives of their children. Joint custody requires parents to agree and cooperate on all important decisions regarding the child. Some of these include education, religion and health care.
A Will County court will award joint custody only when it is in the best interests of the child. Both parents must enter a Joint Parenting Agreement which will indicate the residential parent, and the parent responsible for paying support to the residential parent. This “residential” status does not benefit the parent in any way, it is only used to indicate the main residence of the child.
The parents will make a schedule that works best for them and their family. The agreement must address each parent’s powers, rights and responsibilities for major decisions. After the parents come together on an agreement they will submit the agreement to a judge for approval. If no agreement can be reached by the parents a judge will have to decide what is best for the child.
In a joint custody proceeding, a Joliet or Will County judge will consider many factors when deciding what living arrangements are best suited for the child’s needs. These considerations include:
- The agreement between parents
- The desires of the child
- The relationship with the child and his parents and other siblings
- The child’s need to adjust to his home, school and community
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved
- The willingness and cooperation of each parent in facilitating and continuing a close relationship with the child
In Illinois, courts distinguish between legal and physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make important decisions about raising the child. Physical custody refers to where the child actually lives.
A major common misperception about joint custody is that joint custody means equal parenting time. Joint custody only means that both parents have legal custody over the child and must agree on important decisions. Parenting time for non-custodial or non-residential parents is the same in both sol and joint custody situations. An award of joint custody will also not preclude the residential parent from moving out of state. A residential parent cannot unilaterally move out of state absent an agreement by both parents or an order of the court.