In the State of Illinois, child custody is broken down into two primary components that include legal custody and physical custody (or residential custody). Legal custody refers to each parent’s rights and responsibilities related to making important decisions on behalf of the children, including decisions regarding:
- Extracurricular activities
- Religious upbringing
The general preference held by most courts is for both parents to share legal custody. There are situations when a court will give one parent sole legal custody. For example, one parent may not have the ability to make sound decisions for a child, or the parents are unable to effectively communicate with each other. One parent’s having primary physical custody does not necessarily mean that the parent will also have sole legal custody. Physical custody – or residential custody – refers to where the children live. Parents in Illinois often share physical custody and decide on a schedule that works for their unique situation. In some cases, one parent has primary physical custody, and the other parent has a parenting schedule. Illinois recently updated its terminology and now refers to legal custody as the allocation of parental responsibilities and refers to physical custody as parenting time.