50/50 Joint Custody in Illinois

50 50 custody covers two areas. Parental responsibilities (joint legal custody) gives both parents equal authority regarding major decisions about the child such as education, health care, and religion. Parenting time (joint physical custody) maximizes the time the child has with both parents.

Calculate Child Support For Shared Custody

Click here to use our Illinois Child Support Calculator For 50 50 Custody to estimate monthly payments.

What is Parenting Time (Joint Physical Placement)

Parenting time, formerly physical custody or 50/50 custody, is how much time your children spend with each parent. When deciding parenting time in Illinois, a judge will always try to maximize time with both parents in a way that is in the child's best interest.

Many parents sharing parenting time will work out a schedule together. If a judge deems that the schedule is good for the child's wellbeing and doesn't unnecessarily skew towards one parent, they will grant it. In your parenting plan, consider things like where the children will spend holidays, weekends, and school days.

Start Preparing for Co-Parenting

Click here to download the IL parenting plan worksheet. Reviewing this worksheet is a good way to prepare yourself mentally for the conversations you'll need to have regarding your children.

Parenting Responsibilities and Decision Making (Joint Legal Custody)

“Parental responsibilities and decision making” refers to who gets to make major decisions for your children about their health, education, extracurricular activities, and religion. The major difference between this and “custody” is that judges will look at each responsibility separately instead of granting them all to one person.

This could result in a joint custody arrangement where one parent gets to decide the children's education, while you share decisions regarding their health and so on.

Most of the time, this refers to both parents sharing decision-making regardless how much time the child spends with each parent. However, this doesn't mean every decision has to be signed off on by both parents. Simple day-to-day decisions can be made by whoever the child is with.

As is usually the case, a judge will always prefer if you and your spouse can agree on parental responsibilities instead of having to decide them for you. If possible, coming up with a joint parenting plan will ensure that you and your spouse both have a say in the major aspects of your child's life.

Do you have to pay child support if you have joint custody in Illinois?

In Illinois, child support is paid even when there's shared parenting time. Illinois works on what is called an “income shares model” when calculating child support. Put simply, the court looks at both spouse's combined income, and how much each of them contributes. Generally, this means whichever spouse has the highest income will end up paying child support to the other.

Parental responsibilities (joint legal custody) won't affect the amount of child support but your parenting time (physical custody) will. When each parent has the child for at least 146 nights per year (about 40%), it can significantly change the amount owed. Calculate Illinois child support payments here.

What Factors are Considered for Parenting Time (Placement)?

In the vast majority of cases, if a couple can agree on a parenting schedule that works for both them and the children, it will be approved. But if parents can't agree, the schedule is rejected, or it ends up going to trial, a judge will look at a list of specific criteria to make a decision. The judge's goal is never to punish one parent but to make sure the child's best interests are being served. They'll take the wishes of both parents into account, the child's home life, their school and community, along with a number of other factors. Click here to read all factors Illinois courts consider to determine parenting time.

What is Primary Physical Placement?

Traditionally, primary physical placement referred to one parent having their children for the vast majority of the year. This also, by default, gave that parent decision-making authority. In Illinois, having primary physical placement (the child spends most of the year with you) no longer guarantees you all the decision-making power.

When you submit your parenting plan, you will also have to determine your children's primary residential address. This is for school enrollment and record keeping and is generally the residence where they spend the most time.

Are Mothers Favored Over Fathers in Child Custody?

No. Despite the general stereotype, mothers are not given preferential treatment in custody cases. In fact, even if a child spends the majority of time at their mother's house, the father can still have joint parental responsibilities (legal custody). The final decision about which parent gets the majority of parental responsibilities comes entirely down to the best interests of the child. Generally, judges will favor an arrangement where decision-making and time spent with the child is split as evenly as possible.

Examples of Joint Physical Custody Schedules

Though not mandated by the court, many parents like to create a specific schedule to figure out who has their children when. Some common schedules include:

60/40 Custody Schedule
An example of this is when the children live with Parent A during the week and live with Parent B during the weekends. This is similar to the 4-3 schedule, but the 60/40 includes weekends for Parent B.

70/30 Custody Schedule
The most popular version of this schedule is when the children live with Parent B for a week during every 3rd week. Another version is when the children live with Parent B every weekend.

75/25 Custody Schedule
The children live with Parent A for 5 days and live with Parent B for 2 days per week.

80/20 Custody Schedule
The children live with Parent A but live with Parent B 20% of the time. Example schedules include the child visiting Parent B during the 1st, 2nd, & 5th weekend, or visiting during the 2nd, 4th, and 5th weekend.

2-2-3 Rotation (Two-week Schedule)
The children live with Parent A for 2 days, then Parent B for 2 days, then Parent A for 3 days. Once the week is over, the rotation flips. This schedule lets the kids have alternating weekends with each parent.

2-2-5-5 Custody Schedule (Two-week Schedule)
In this schedule, the children live with Parent A for 2 days, then Parent B for 2 days, then Parent A for 5 days, then Parent B for 4 days. This allows the children to be with one parent every Sunday and Monday, and the other every Tuesday and Wednesday with Thursday, Friday, and Saturday alternating.

3-3-4-4 Custody Schedule (Two-week Schedule)
The children live with Parent A for 3 days, then Parent B for 3 days, then Parent A for 4 days, then Parent B for 4 days. With this schedule, the children are with the same parent every Sunday – Tuesday and with the other every Wednesday – Friday. Saturdays are alternating.

4-3 Custody Schedule
The children live with Parent A for 4 days (weekends and some weekdays) and live with Parent B for 3 days (weekdays).

Alternating Weeks Custody Schedule (7 on 7 off)
The children live with Parent A for 7 days, then Parent B for 7 days.

Alternating Weekends Custody Schedule (Every Other Weekend)
The children live with Parent A and with Parent B every other weekend.

Midweek Visitation
This is usually added to the Alternating Weeks schedule so the children don't go an entire week without seeing the other parent.

Midweek Overnight
This is usually added to the Alternating Weeks schedule. For example, when the children are staying the week with Parent A, the child stays overnight with Parent B one night during the week.

To help you organize your schedule, click here to start a parenting plan.

References: Defining a Child’s Best Interests

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