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Sole Custody in Illinois

In Illinois, sole custody or full custody is given to a parent when it is in the child’s best interests. Sole custody means one parent has sole decision-making rights for major decisions in the child’s life. Major decisions include things surrounding the child’s education, health, religion, and extracurricular activities.

Do you need to protect your child from their other parent?

If so, you may need to ask the court for sole custody. Sole custody gives you the full ability to make important decisions in your child’s life.

What Sole Custody Means in Illinois

Sole custody is when one parent is totally responsible for making major decisions in a child’s life. Major decisions include the child’s:

  • Education – The choice of schools and tutors.
  • Health – Decisions about the child’s medical and psychological needs.
  • Religion – Whether or not to have a religious upbringing.
  • Extracurricular Activities – Ensuring safety and positive impact.[1]

Sole custody is gained in one of two ways. First, if one parent is willing to concede custody of the child, the other parent gets sole custody. Or, if one parent believes the other shouldn’t have custody, the court will decide if that parent should have sole custody.

The court makes custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. This means both parents are not required to have custody because it may not be what is best for the child.[2] Also, custody is often referred to as parental responsibilities in Illinois laws and by the courts.

Sole Custody vs. Sole Placement

Custody is the ability to make major decisions for the child. Placement, also called parenting time, is the time the child spends with each parent day-to-day.

Sole custody and sole placement are not always coupled. In this case, one parent could have sole custody, but the other parent may still have placement with the child.

There are many different placement schedules, but when a parent has sole custody, they also usually have primary placement. Primary placement just means they have more parenting time with the child.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!

How to Win Sole Custody in Illinois

In general, you win sole custody by proving to the court that it is in your child’s best interest for you to have sole custody. This is no easy task and requires detailed supporting evidence.

Having an attorney is a great asset during these cases. Experienced family law attorneys, such as the ones from Sterling Lawyers, LLC, who have worked these cases many times, are a powerful ally to have in your case.

The Burden of Proof

The burden of proof is on the person claiming the other party is unfit to have custody of the child. This means that person has to prove their claim. They need to both prove the other parent is an unfit parent and to prove that they themselves are fit to be a parent.

To prove the other parent is unfit, show pictures of poor living conditions, have police/medical records of abuse, show spotty employment history, and/or describe their overall inability to parent.

To prove that you are a fit parent, talk about your child’s best interests, talk about specifics, dress professionally, prepare the necessary paperwork, and don’t attack your spouse.

Sole Temporary Orders

In the beginning of a child custody or divorce case, the court gives out temporary orders that last until a final order is given. These temporary orders can also give a parent sole custody, but that is often harder to get. It depends on the specifics of the case, but there isn’t as much time to gather and present evidence.

However, if you are able to get sole custody right away, it will be easier to get that as a final order as well. This is a moment that highlights why having an attorney from the beginning of a case is really important.

Emergency Orders

Emergency orders are child custody orders given really quickly due to an emergency situation. These orders are not given lightly, not given often, and are always followed up with a full case afterward.

Are you ready to move forward? Call (312) 757-8082 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.


How Does Child Support Work with Sole Custody?

Our child support calculator works for both joint and sole custody. Child support is common in divorce and child custody cases, and it happens even more often in sole custody cases. This is because when one parent has sole custody they also often have more of the placement time. An imbalance of placement time generally is a cause for child support.

Do I Need a Parenting Plan with Sole Custody?

A parenting plan is still required in a case where one parent wants sole custody. In child custody cases, parents don’t know for certain if they will have sole custody. The parenting plan outlines their ideal situation, so the parenting plan outlines what their version of sole custody looks like.

Can a Parent Change the Child's Last Name Without the Other Parent's Permission?

Even if you have sole custody, you cannot change the child’s name without the other parent’s consent. In Illinois, to change your or your child’s name, you have to file a request with the court asking to change it.

Can a Parent with Primary Physical Custody Relocate the Child to Outside of the State?

To move out of state requires approval from the court even with sole custody. But, if you have sole custody, you can move anywhere within the state.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get sole custody in Illinois?

To get sole custody, you request it from the court. To get the court to give it to you, prove it is in your child’s best interest for you to have sole custody. The court decides custody based on the Illinois child custody laws.

How to get full custody in Illinois?

Full custody is another term used to describe sole custody. To get full custody, you need to prove to the court that the other parent should not have any custody of the child.

What is sole physical custody?

Physical custody is where the child is day-to-day. Sole physical custody is when one parent always has the child.
Sole physical custody is rare because it is often more beneficial for the child to have a relationship and spend time with both of their parents. Physical custody is also called placement or parenting time.

How do I get sole custody of my child?

To get sole custody of your child, you must convince the court that it is in the child’s best interest for you to be the only one making major decisions in the child’s life. You do this by presenting evidence proving the other parent is unfit to make major decisions. Then, you also present evidence proving you are fit to make these decisions.

What is the most common child custody arrangement?

The most common child custody arrangement is 50/50 joint custody. But there is also sole custody and primary custody where one parent has more of a say than the other.
As for placement schedules, there isn’t one most common arrangement. This is because the arrangement is dependent on the parents’ and child’s schedules.

Who has sole custody of a child in Illinois?

Many parents in Illinois have sole custody. The court gives one parent sole custody when the other parent cannot take care of a child. If one parent has sole custody, the other parent is an unfit parent or hasn’t established paternity.

How do I prove sole parental responsibility?

To prove you should be solely responsible for making major parental decisions, you must present convincing evidence. As mentioned above, some examples of evidence are images of poor living conditions or reports proving abuse.

Can a father get full custody?

A father can get full custody just like a mother can. The court bases its decisions on the child’s best interest. So, if the father should have custody of the child, that is how it will be.

References: 1. 750 ILCS § 5/602.5 (b)(1-4). Allocation of Parental Responsibilities: Decision-Making. | 2. 750 ILCS § 5/602.5 (a).

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