More and more divorced parents share physical custody and visitation of their children, moving them between households every few days or every other week. But many divorcing couples decide — or the court orders — that one parent should have sole physical custody and the other should have regular visitation rights.
In Illinois (as in other states), courts distinguish between legal and physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make important decisions about raising the child, such as where the child will go to school, religious training, and so on. Physical custody refers to where the child actually lives.
In some scenarios, the custodial parent obtains a job in a new location that extends outside of the Rockford area, or remarries and moves to live with the new spouse in a different location. This is commonly referred to as a “move-away” situation.
Regardless of scenario, however, the court takes into account the “Best Interest of the Child” as its standard when deciding on custody and visitation rights.
The factors a court must consider include, among other things, the wishes of the parents; the wishes of the child; the relationship between the child and his parents or siblings; the child’s adjustment to his home, school and community; the mental and physical health of everyone involved; the risk or existence of physical violence or abuse by the potential custodian; and the willingness of and ability of each parent to facilitate a good relationship between the child and the other parent.
While joint custody is not always awarded, parents can agree to joint custody or either parent can request joint custody. And if one parent requests joint custody, the court must take it into consideration.
If the parents cannot reach an agreement on custody, the court can require the parties to attend mediation to help the parents attempt to reach their own agreement regarding custody and visitation. If mediation is unsuccessful, the custody issues proceed to trial, and the mediation discussions remain confidential.
It’s important to note that Illinois law does not provide for allowing a child to decide with which parent they will live. The court may consider the child’s wishes, either through testimony of the parents or through an attorney or another professional on behalf of the child, and decide accordingly.
Illinois law also provides that a grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling of a minor child may petition the court for visitation rights when certain conditions exist. In determining whether to grant visitation, the court may consider a number of factors, including whether the child resided in the home of the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling for at least six consecutive months, and whether the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling was the primary caregiver for the child for at least six consecutive months.
Schedule a Free Consultation
The Law Office of Paul M. Marriett has experience in move-away and relocation situations and would be happy to help you address this issue in your custody or visitation case. For a free consultation with an attorney, call the Law Office of Paul M. Marriett at (815) 391-0089 so we can discuss the best options available to remedy your situation.