Divorces can be contentious, especially when there are children involved. No matter what sort of agreement the parties are able to reach or the court is able to fashion when it comes to child custody, at least one parent is not going to get to spend as much time with his or her children as he or she would have had the marriage stayed intact. This can leave parents feeling isolated from their children. These feelings can get even worse when one parent's home is designated the “primary residence” of the child or children, therefore making the other parent feel like some sort of “second-class” parent. In some situations, however, Illinois courts are moving away from this traditional model and choosing not to designate a “primary residence” for the child, allowing both halves of the child's home to remain equals.
Illinois Law and Joint Custody
The Illinois law that deals with child custody matters is the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. One of the purposes of this law is to ensure the maximum involvement and cooperation of both of a child's parents when it comes to the child's well-being. The guiding principle that the court is supposed to consider when making custody decisions is the best interests of the child. To this end, either parent is allowed to request joint custody, or the court can consider joint custody without either party requesting it. A court can order joint custody if, after considering certain factors, it determines that joint custody would be in the child's best interests. The factors include:
- The parents' ability to cooperate effectively and consistently in matters that affect joint parenting;
- Each parent's residential circumstances; and
- Any other factors that may be relevant.
Joint custody can only be awarded where the evidence shows that the parents will cooperate when it comes to the raising of the child, so it may not be appropriate in more contentious divorces.
Illinois Law With Regards to Primary Residence Designation
When parents share joint custody of a child, that does not mean necessarily that they will each have equal parenting time. According to Section 6012.1(d) of the act, the child's physical residence is to be determined by the agreement of the parties or by order of the court. However, the law does not specifically preclude the idea of parents having equal parenting time. While it may not be appropriate always, in some cases it may be what is in the best interests of the child. In those cases, the court can order what the child's residence will be on specific days without designating either residence as a primary residence. After all, if the child is truly splitting time with each parent equally, then any description of one residence as the primary residence would be a fallacy.
Call Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C.
Custody battles are complicated. When a person loves a child they often want nothing more than to care for that child and be a part of the child’s life. Winning these battles can be difficult, which is why you need the help of a dedicated Illinois family law attorney. Call Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C. at 630-665-7676 for assistance.