What Is Legal Custody?

Author: Don Pioletti Posted on: . Filed in: Family Law.

When parents divorce, custody can be a very emotional and contentious issue if the parents cannot agree how to co-parent after the divorce. The issues of custody and visitation are often the most hard-fought and disputed issues in a divorce action. The emotional and financial aspects of legal custody drive parents to take drastic steps to protect what they consider to be in the best interest of themselves and their child. However, judges are solely interested in the best interest of the child and use this concern as the guiding principle when deciding legal custody.

The family law attorneys of Pioletti & Pioletti understand the sensitive nature of this issue and strive to meet all of the needs of our client and his or her child. Whether it is through mediation and negotiation or by taking your case to court and aggressively litigating legal custody issues, our custody attorneys work aggressively to protect your rights and your child’s best interest.

Illinois Child Custody Laws

  • Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody

Some states have adopted parenting agreements in place of custody arrangements. Illinois law still defines custody in terms of physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the primary residence of the child (which parent the child will live with) and sets forth a detailed schedule for visitation with the non-custodial parent.

Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions for your child. Legal custody gives the parent the right to make decisions with regard to the child’s healthcare, education, religion, and extracurricular activities. The decisions that a parent makes with regard to these areas shape the child’s future and affect his or her overall well-being.

  • Sole Legal Custody vs. Joint Legal Custody

The court may order that one parent has sole legal custody of the child. In this situation, that parent has unilateral decision-making power with regard to any major decisions affecting the child’s life. Joint legal custody arrangements give both parents an equal say in the major decisions that affect the child’s life. There are many reasons why a judge may grant sole or joint legal custody. A family law attorney can explain this further during your consultation based on the unique and specific circumstances of your situation.

Is Joint Legal Custody or Sole Legal Custody Better for the Child?

There is not a simple answer to this question. Each family and each situation is different and requires a custody arrangement that is right for that specific family. It is typically better for the child and the parents if the parents can reach a satisfactory legal custody arrangement that is tailored to the specific needs of the child and the parents. When parents are able to work through their personal issues to reach a mutually agreeable custody arrangement, the parties are generally more satisfied with the decision and avoid problems later.

However, when parents cannot agree on legal custody or physical custody, the court must weigh all of the evidence to determine what is in the best interest of the child. If you and your spouse cannot agree on legal custody and your case must go to court, you need a skilled attorney who has experience in litigating child custody cases.

Contact Our Office for a Consultation with an Experienced Illinois Child Custody Attorney

The family law attorneys of Pioletti & Pioletti represent individuals who are dealing with issues such as divorce, custody, support, and adoption. We assist clients throughout McLean, Woodford, Tazewell, and Peoria counties by providing compassionate, competent legal services. Contact our office at 309-938-4838 to schedule your free consultation.

When you need the assistance of an experienced family court lawyer in central Illinois, call Pioletti & Pioletti. We are dedicated to providing our clients with exceptional service and support.

Don Pioletti

Don Pioletti

Don B. Pioletti, Jr. was born on August 2, 1946 in Washington, Illinois. He graduated from Eureka High School and received a Bachelor’s Degree from Eureka College in 1970. He served in the Army during the Vietnam War and then graduated from George Mason University Law School in 1976. He served as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General and as an Assistant State’s Attorney. From 1990 until July of 2014 he served as the Woodford County Chief Public Defense Attorney.
Don Pioletti