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Child custody FAQs

Photo of Karen Lavin


For Illinoisans with children, many of the biggest issues to resolve during a split involve children. Sometimes both parents want to be the primary caregiver; other times one parent wants the other parent to pay (what seems to the other parent to be) a princely sum for child support. This post will speak more about the first scenario: child custody.

Child custody comes in several shapes and sizes. The first thing to know is that there are actually two forms of child custody: physical and legal. Physical custody governs where the child will live. The parent who has physical custody of the child is said to be the custodial parent; the other parent is the non-custodial parent. By contrast, legal custody addresses which parent can make important decisions about a child's health, religion, education and more.

The next twist is that physical and legal custody can be shared or separate. Shared physical custody, for example, would involve a time-sharing arrangement. The child would live with one parent some of the time and the other parent the rest of the time. But even if physical custody is not shared, the non-custodial parent would typically get visitation rights.

Another arrangement is split custody. This only applies when the couple has more than one child together. In such cases, one parent might get full custody of one child while the other parent gets custody of the other child. While this is an option, it is rare because courts do not like to split up siblings.

Illinoisans interested in learning more about child custody may benefit from discussing their situation with an experienced family-law attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody Basics," Accessed Nov. 18, 2014

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