Sole Custody in Illinois

Sole 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.

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

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.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get sole custody in Illinois?

To get sole custody of your child, you need to prove that the other parent should not have custody of the child. You must prove that you having sole custody is in the child’s best interest.

How to get full custody in Illinois?

Full custody is another term to describe sole custody. To get this kind of custody, you must prove that the other parent should not be making major decisions in the child's life.

What does sole custody mean in Illinois?

Sole custody or sole parental responsibility means that only one parent makes major decisions in the child’s life. The other parent may still get time with the child, but they don’t get to decide things like where the child goes to school.

What's the difference between sole custody and full custody?

There isn’t a difference between sole custody and full custody. They are both terms people use to describe when one party has the full ability to make major decisions for the child. Some people think full custody means that the other parent doesn’t see the child at all, but that isn’t a legal term.

Who has sole custody of a child in Illinois?

Many people have sole custody in Illinois. In most cases, the court wants both parties to be involved, but this isn’t always the best option. Also, the mother has sole custody of a child if the father doesn’t establish paternity.

Who gets primary custody in Illinois?

Primary custody is another option where one party has final decision-making ability over their child but the other party still gets a say. This can be really frustrating for the person without primary custody.