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Can a Father Get Primary Custody in Illinois?

 Posted on January 31, 2022 in Child Custody / Parental Responsibilities

rolling meadows fathers rights attorneyMany parents experience conflict in their divorce and one of the most contentious areas is often issues related to the children. Parents will often try to compete with each other to be the best parent and sometimes use the children as weapons in a sort of proxy war to “get back” at each other for the hurt they experienced in their marriage. 

For other parents, however, there are legitimate concerns about the parental fitness of their former spouse and concerns about the wellbeing of the child. If you are interested in obtaining the majority of parenting time with your child or being allocated full parental responsibilities, read on.

Illinois No Longer Uses the Concept of “Custody”

Even if a child in Illinois spends all their time with one parent, that parent does not have “full custody” of the child because Illinois no longer uses the term “custody” at all. To allocate the process of childrearing more equitably between parents, Illinois law now uses the terms parenting time and parental responsibilities instead. “Parenting time” describes when a child will be with a specific parent, and “parental responsibilities” describes important decision-making responsibilities on behalf of the child for major issues. 

Even though Illinois no longer designates a parent as having sole or joint custody, the law still requires one parent to be designated the “residential parent” or the “parent with the majority of parenting time” so that a child can be enrolled in school under a residential address. But while a parent may be designated the “residential parent,” this has very little practical impact on who spends time with a child and makes important decisions for them. 

If I Cannot Get Full Custody, Can I Get Full Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities? 

To the extent possible, Illinois family law tries to give each parent an opportunity to have an active role in their child’s life. When parents can get along, they usually will share parental responsibilities. Even if parents cannot get along, they will almost always share parenting time. Parents are encouraged to work together to create a parenting plan that benefits the child.  

Sometimes, however, one parent has certain issues or behavioral problems that truly make them unfit to care for a child. Illinois courts take the idea of removing parental rights very seriously, and will require extensive evidence documenting the allegedly unfit parent’s behavior. This could include photos, emails, police reports, employment records, criminal histories, and proof of unsuitable living conditions. Substance abuse, serious mental illness, criminal behavior (especially towards children), and imprisonment may all be reasons to grant one parent full parenting time and parental responsibilities.

However, just because you believe one parent may be unfit does not mean you will automatically be allocated full parenting time and parental responsibilities; you must also act in a way that is in your child’s best interests. If appropriate, an Illinois family law attorney can help you gather evidence and make a compelling case to help ensure your child is safe. 

Call a Cook County Father’s Rights Lawyer

At The Law Offices of Curtis Bennett Ross, L.L.C., we understand how very important a child’s relationship with their father can be. If you have concerns that your child’s other parent may be unfit, contact us at 312-984-1514. We offer free limited case reviews so you can ask questions and get a sense of what your options may be. Call us today to schedule your consultation with our experienced Chicago, IL father’s rights attorney over the phone or in our downtown Chicago office. 



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