Sole Custody in Illinois

sole custody and placement in IllinoisSole custody orders protect a child when the best interests of a child exclude one parent.
Sole custody used to refer to a straightforward form of custody that gave legal and physical placement exclusively to one parent. However, with the new law passed in 2016, there have been some large changes including throwing out the term “custody” all together in favor of “parental responsibilities”.

The court will typically encourage parents to work out parental responsibilities together to minimize hardship on the child and keep their best interests in mind. Therefore, this type of arrangement is rarer and often occurs when substance abuse, mental health issues or another serious issue prevents a parent from fully engaging with a child.

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How do the changes to the law affect you?

Old Child Custody Law

Under the old law, there was simply “custody”. Having sole custody of a child meant that parent had 100% decision-making power over the child in addition to having the child live with them the vast majority of the time. The non-custodial parent would then be granted visitation rights as the court best saw fit.

Assignment of “Parental Responsibilities” – New Since 2016

With the advent of the new law, “custody” has been broken down into several “parental responsibilities”. These include decision-making power over the child's health, education, extracurricular activities and religious upbringing. The key difference in the new law is that each of these responsibilities is considered separately. In other words, one parent could be given sole decision-making authority over the child's education, while the other decides their extracurricular activities.

A judge could still decide to give all parental responsibilities to one parent, creating a similar situation to the old “sole custody”, but it is not as much of an all-or-nothing battle as it once was. This also means that while the parenting schedule may be such that the child physically spends a great deal of time with both parents, one parent is given the power over all major decisions.

References: Changes from the New Law

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