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What does it mean to apply for child custody in Illinois?

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When a person is going through a divorce, it is often difficult to think of anyone going through something worse. Yet for spouses with children, there is something worse happening: One or more children are losing their stability, their expectations and their family.

Couples in Illinois in the process of divorcing should take a long, hard look at possible child custody arrangements in order to safeguard the well-being of their children. An attorney may be able to ask the right questions and help spouses find the answers.

What does "custody" entail?

Illinois law defines custody as the power to make decision that influence a child's life. This includes nutrition, education, religion and social connections. Residential custody involves where a child will live, or at least, the child's primary residence.

How does a divorcing parent apply for custody?

Spouses who agree on custody during divorce can file the agreement with the court. A parent can apply for sole custody with a marriage dissolution petition, paternity petition or petition for custody.

How is custody assigned by the court?

A child's best interest is always the primary concern of an Illinois court determining custody arrangements. The wishes of the child, especially a more mature one, are weighed alongside the wishes and capabilities of each parent and all interactions within the family. The physical and mental health of parents and children are also important.

Can custody orders be changed?

A sole parent's petition to change custody can only occur after two years have passed since the last order or change. A court must also determine that the changes are in the best interests of the child.

Source: FindLaw, "Your Chicago Child Custody Case: The Basics," accessed Dec. 15, 2017

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