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Divorce & Child Custody in Illinois



If you are getting divorced in Illinois and have a child, custody is an important issue. Understanding child custody in Illinois will help you do the right thing for your child.

Custody means that your child lives with you and you are responsible for his or her care. If you have sole custody, you alone must care for your child. If you have joint custody, you share that responsibility with a former spouse or another person.

How Do I Get Child Custody in Illinois?

In an Illinois divorce, custody will be decided as part of your divorce settlement. The court will decide which custody arrangement is in the best interest of your child. Illinois custody law favors joint custody when it is in the childs interest, but it is not required.

Before your divorce is final, you may wish to have the court decide custody. Illinois custody law lets the court issue a temporary custody order. This order determines custody until the divorce is final.

If you will be seeking permanent custody of your child, securing a temporary custody order may work in your favor. The court is interested in making your childs life as stable as possible. It will consider the current living arrangements when making a final custody decision. If you can provide a stable household for your child during the divorce, it shows the court that you are a good choice for permanent custody.

How Does the Court Make a Custody Decision?

In an Illinois divorce, custody is decided in the best interest of the child. Illinois custody law asks the court to consider:

  • Your choice of custody
  • Your former spouses choice of custody
  • Your childs opinion
  • The relationship between your child and you, your former spouse, each family member and your friends
  • If you and your former spouse can cooperate in raising your child and keep a good relationship with each other
  • Your childs home, school, and community ties
  • Everyones mental and physical health
  • Any danger or possible harm to your child, from either you or your former spouse
  • Other facts that are important to your childs best interest

You and your former spouse will be allowed to give the court information that supports your custody choice.

You and your former spouse may agree on custody, including visitation and support. In Illinois, the agreement may be called a parenting plan or a custody arrangement. You or your lawyer may give your agreement to the court. If the court finds that it serves your childs best interest, it will become part of your divorce settlement.