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How can I get joint custody of my child in Illinois?

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In most situations, Illinois courts favor parents working out some form of joint custody arrangement with their children.  Additionally, Illinois has a joint custody law that I am proud to have co-authored -- and also benefited from as a joint custodial father myself. Joint custody allows parents to remain involved in the lives of their children if the law is utilized most effectively.  There are basically three forms of joint custody. These include: Joint legal custody, where both parents share major decisions-making powers; joint physical custody, where children spend significant time with each parent; or a combination of the two.   

Ideally, parents should work together to reach an agreement that is in the best interest of their children.  However, divorcing parents may not be able to reach common ground concerning custody issues especially when parental alienation rears its ugly head.  Where parents cannot independently work out an arrangement, courts in Illinois have the power to enter a Joint Parenting Order. A Joint Parenting Agreement or Order should contain a detailed explanation of each parent's powers, rights and responsibilities for the care of the child. Provisions for major decisions regarding the child, such as education, health care and religious training, are also required. A time period for review of the terms of the agreement or order, procedures regarding changes, disputes and alleged breaches should be specifically set out in the agreement or order. Lastly, the child's physical residence and detailed schedule of times the child will spend with each parent must be included.   Specificity can result in consistent and stable parenting as opposed to ambiguity, which often results in future conflict and litigation.

But there is no legal presumption that joint custody means equal parenting time, although such can be a great advantage to children, which a court can order.  This should be analyzed on a case by case basis. It must be remembered, it is the child and his or her best interest that should be controlling.

While courts generally prefer some form of shared custody, in certain situations, a judge may grant full custody to one parent.  Because protecting your custody rights and preserving your relationship with your child is vitally important, if you have any questions concerning custody you should immediately consult with a skilled Chicago child custody attorney. 

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