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Illinois Child Custody Laws

Illinois has joined the rest of the nation in adopting the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA), which is intended to minimize interstate child custody conflicts. Illinois child custody laws allow parents and guardians the option of joint custody and recognize grandparent visitation rights, among other things.

Illinois courts recognize legal custody and physical custody. The term legal custody refers to the right of a parent or guardian to make major life decisions, such as schooling and religious upbringing. The term pysical custody refers to the decision of which parent or guardian the child lives with. As in other states, either one (sole custody) or both (joint custody) parents may have legal and/or physical custody.

For example, a joint legal custody arrangement allows both parents to make major life decisions on behalf of the child. In a sole physical custody arrangement, the child lives with one parent full-time, even if the non-custodial parent has visitation rights or shares in the legal custody arrangement.

Illinois child custody laws stipulate that children 14 and older may choose which parent to live with, but the judge may overrule this decision if he or she determines the child's decision is not in his or her best interests. A parenting plan generally recognizes the following:

  • The continuity of the parent-child relationship typically is in the child's best interest.
  • The needs of children change and grow as they mature.
  • Custodial parents make daily decisions (including emergencies) while child is with that particular parent.
  • Both parents are to have access to a child's official records

Parenting plans also identify now children will spend birthdays and other holidays; transportation arrangements; when supervision is required; and other considerations.

Learn more about Illinois child custody laws in the table below, along with links to related articles and resources. See FindLaw's Child Custody section for additional information.

Code Section 750 ILCS 5/601, 602, 607
Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted 1979
Joint Custody an Option? Yes, 750 ILCS 5/602.1
Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized? Yes, 750 ILCS 5/607(b)-(e)
Child's Own Wishes Considered? Yes

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- your best course of action is to contact an Illinois child custody attorney. Barring that you should conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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