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Can a parent obtain sole custody in an Illinois divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2022 | Divorce

When you have a child with your spouse, the two of you will share a relationship for the rest of your lives even if you end things with one another. Until your children reach adulthood, the two of you will need to cooperate to meet their needs and cover their cost-of-living expenses.

You will likely see each other weekly, if not more frequently, to exchange custody. You will also need to communicate about what your children need and cooperate to meet those needs. Sometimes, a parent concerned about sharing custody with their ex will seek sole custody from the Illinois courts. That means that their ex won’t have any decision-making authority and limited, if any, overnight visitation with the children.

Is it possible to ask for sole custody if your ex also wants parenting time?

You will need a valid reason to seek sole custody

The courts will always prioritize the best interests of the children over the preferences or desires of the parents in the family. Most of the time, a judge presiding over a divorce or contested custody matter in Illinois will want to arrange shared parental responsibilities with copious amounts of parenting time for each adult.

If you want the judge in your case to deviate from that standard, you will need to present a compelling reason for them to do so. It is only if a judge agrees that it would be better for your children to live with you full time that you can likely secure sole custody in litigated proceedings.

When would sole custody be best for the children?

There are numerous scenarios in which one parent maintaining sole custody is better for the children than fully-shared custody. A parent with a history of abusive behavior toward the children should not be alone with them following a divorce. The same is likely true of a parent with a history of neglect or major substance abuse issues.

Physical and mental health concerns can also be part of the reason why the courts limit one parent’s time with or authority over the children. Sometimes, when there is child with special needs, the courts may recognize that the need for a predictable schedule and a comfortable environment makes a child unable to live between two households. In such a scenario, the non-custodial parent will likely receive liberal visitation rights.

If you hope to obtain sole custody, you will need to convince the Illinois family law judge hearing your case that such arrangements are what would be best for your children. Learning more about the Illinois approach to custody matters can help you prepare a more compelling case to present in court.