50/50 Joint Custody and Placement Schedules in Illinois

50/50 joint custody refers to each parent’s decision-making rights and placement schedule (Illinois calls these parental responsibilities and parenting time). The best joint custody schedule maximizes parenting time with both parents. Illinois law prefers parents to mutually agree on a schedule. But the courts can allocate parenting time in the child’s best interest if necessary.

Understanding Joint Custody in Illinois

People often talk about custody when referring to which parent lives with and takes care of a child. Custody is actually broken into two parts: taking care of the child day-to-day and making major decisions for the child.

Here are the two terms used in place of custody.

Parental Responsibilities = The ability to make major decisions for a child or children (used to be called Legal Custody).[1]

Parenting Time = The time a parent has with a child where they are the caretaker and make minor decisions for them (used to be called Physical Custody).[2]

Using these definitions, joint custody means parents share parental responsibilities and parenting time. How these are actually split depends on the specifics of the situation. Illinois prefers it when parents decide how to split up parenting time and responsibilities on their own or in mediation. However, the courts will decide for parents if they cannot agree.

Shared Parental Responsibilities

Parents who share parental responsibilities work together to make major decisions in their child’s life. The major decisions listed in the IL statutes are

  • health,
  • religion,
  • education, and
  • extracurricular activities.[3]

Before parents make these decisions, they create a joint parenting agreement. This agreement, or parenting plan, outlines responsibilities and expectations surrounding the child.

Parenting Time Explained

Formerly called physical custody or placement, parenting time is when a parent is housing and taking care of their child. A good parenting plan clearly states when the child is with each parent and covers the entire year. Like parental responsibilities, Illinois prefers parents to make this schedule together. But, again, the courts will create the parenting schedule if parents cannot.

Parenting schedules need to address any deviations from the standard schedule. This becomes more important when kids are in school. Prepare for things like school breaks, snow days, vacations, extracurriculars, etc. To actually prepare for deviations, you first need a base schedule.

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.

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Examples of Joint Custody Schedules (Parenting Time)

Shared parenting schedules come in many forms to fit any situation. When choosing a schedule, keep in mind everyone’s regular schedules as well as their physical/emotional needs.

The easiest way to visualize these schedules is by having a calendar to reference. Most of the below options are 50/50, but there are options such as 60/40 and below.

The 2-2-3 Parenting Schedule (2-week Schedule)

The child lives with Parent A for two days, then Parent B for two days, then Parent A for three days. Once the week is over the rotation switches. This lets both parents enjoy weekends with the child.

The 2-2-5-5 Parenting Schedule (2-week Schedule)

The child lives with Parent A for two days, then Parent B for two days, then Parent A for five days, then Parent B for five days. This gives one parent every Sunday and Monday, and the other parent has every Tuesday and Wednesday. Then Thursday, Friday, and Saturday alternate between them.

The 3-3-4-4 Parenting Schedule (2-week Schedule)

The child lives with Parent A for three days, then Parent B for three days, then Parent A for four days, then Parent B for four days. With this schedule, one parent has every Sunday to Tuesday, and the other parent has every Wednesday to Friday. Parents then switch off for who gets each Saturday.

The 4-3 Parenting Schedule

The child lives with Parent A for four days and lives with Parent B for the other three days of the week. Usually, the three days are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

The 7-On-7-Off Parenting Schedule

Some call this the week-on-week-off schedule. The child stays with Parent A for one week, then Parent B for the next week. A full week can be too long of a separation for some people.

The Midweek Overnight

This is most often in conjunction with the seven-on-seven-off schedule. It gives the child one day with Parent A during Parent B’s weeks and vice versa, breaking up that long separation.

The Every Other Weekend Parenting Schedule

For this option, Parent A has the majority of the parenting time and Parent B gets every other weekend. This is not a 50/50 schedule.

The 60/40 Parenting Schedule

One example of this is the 4-3 schedule. But, to make it more 60/40, Parent B's three days can include weekends. These schedules sometimes exclude school time from the parenting time ratio.

The 70/30 Parenting Schedule

One version of this is Parent A having the child for the weekdays and Parent B having weekends. This is a great option when one parent works predominantly on the weekends.

The 75/25 Parenting Schedule

One example is where Parent A has the child for 5 days and Parent B has them for two days, but Parent B only gets one overnight.

The 80/20 Parenting Schedule

This ratio is harder to hit perfectly, but one option is the child living with Parent B for two out of every three weekends.

Calculate Child Support For Shared Custody

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

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Do You Have To Pay Child Support if You Have Joint Custody in Illinois?

Even when parents have 50/50 parenting time, the court could order either party to pay child support. Child support depends on how much each party makes and the amount of time each party has with the child. To calculate child support, use our child support calculator.

Are Mothers Favored Over Fathers in Illinois Family Court?

Illinois courts grant parenting time and responsibilities based on the child’s best interest. This means the court only favors a mother over a father if the father negatively impacts the child.

What if You Can’t Agree on 50/50 Joint Custody in an Illinois Divorce or Parenting Action?

If parents cannot agree on how to split parenting time and responsibilities, they go to mediation. If mediation doesn’t solve the issues, then the court will decide. The court’s process can have many steps such as involving a guardian ad litem. Ultimately, the court’s ruling is based on what's best for the child.

In these cases, having an attorney such as one from Sterling Hughes becomes even more important. Family court can be extremely complicated, so having someone who knows exactly what to do and how to advocate for you can really make the difference.

Can You Modify Joint Custody?

To modify custody in Illinois, you have to prove there has been a serious change in circumstances. The court is unlikely to take on a modification case if it has been less than two years since the original order was set in place. They want to ensure that families put effort into making the current schedule work.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good 50/50 custody schedule?

Two schedules that work for many people are the 2-2-3 schedule and the 7-on-7-off schedule (both described above).
The right 50/50 schedule depends on your situation. Whether it’s because of your work schedule or because you don’t want to go more than 3 days without seeing your kids, the schedule is up to you and the other parties involved. Be sure to also think about Illinois’s child custody laws when deciding on a schedule.

How does joint custody work in Illinois?

Custody includes both parenting time and parental responsibilities. Joint parenting time works differently for each family because everyone’s schedules are different. All versions of shared parenting time have pick-ups and drop-offs and need some form of communication between the parents.
As for parental responsibilities, generally, the parenting plan outlines a mode of communication and a timeline to discuss important situations. Sometimes one parent is given decision-making authority if parents can’t agree on a decision.

What is a typical joint custody schedule?

Typical joint parenting schedules include the 2-2-3, the 2-2-5-5, the 3-3-4-4, the 4-3, or the 7-on-7-off. All these and more are described above.

Does Illinois favor joint custody?

Illinois courts prefer for parents to agree on joint custody together. However, they want what is in the best interest of the child, so they will not push for joint custody in a bad situation.

Do fathers usually get 50/50 custody?

There is nothing in the law that says a father is entitled to parenting time with a child. But, fathers will always get some custody of their child if it is in the child’s best interest.

What is the most common child custody arrangement?

The most common arrangement is for parents to share parental responsibilities (legal custody), but one parent has the majority of the parenting time (physical custody). The other parent still gets visitation with the child, but living in two places can burden children.

References: 1. 750 ILCS § 5/600 (d). Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. | 2. 750 ILCS § 5/600 (e). | 3. 750 ILCS § 5/602.5 (b) (1-4).