Chapter 750 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes contains the state’s laws for family matters. Divorced and separating parents should pay particular attention to Chapter 5 Part 6 of that section because it contains the information about child custody. It is crucial for parents to know and understand these statutes, especially as they are creating a child custody and visitation schedule, because these statues determine the information that the parents must have in their schedules. Specifically, this part of the law lets Illinois parents know about the terms and conditions of joint custody and how to get a schedule approved by the court, both of which impact the custody schedule.
The Illinois statues state very plainly that any decision by the court in any custody matters will be done in the best interest of the child. In order to give more clarification about how the best interest of the child is determined, this section of the code gives a list of things the court considers when thinking about what is in the best interest of the child. These factors include: the wishes of the parents and the child concerning custody; the interaction and interrelationship of the child to the child’s parents, siblings, and others; the child’s adjustment to school, community, and family; the willingness of either parent to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent; the health of the child and the parents; and if there has been any history of abuse or domestic violence by either of the parents. Thus, when Illinois parents are creating a visitation schedule, they must think about these factors and how they influence where the child will spend time. They should be prepared to explain to the judge how the schedule does benefit the child.
Chapter 5 Part 6 also includes important sections about joint custody. Courts in Illinois have the power to order a joint custody agreement if it is in the best interest of the child. The law specifies two factors that influence if joint custody is an option: the resident locations of the parents and if the parents can cooperate and adhere to a Joint Parenting Order. Joint custody doesn’t mean that each parent gets exactly equal time with the children. Rather, the parents will set up a custody and visitation schedule that gives substantial time to each parent with the children. And, the parents will share in parental responsibility.
To get a custody and visitation schedule accepted by the court, the parents can work together and submit a plan jointly, or each parent can submit a proposed plan and let the judge determine the final schedule. Either way, once a schedule is adopted by the court it becomes a court order. The parents are legally bound to follow it or they can be held in contempt of court.