When you and your spouse divorce, you must share the responsibility you have for any children that you have together. Custody is a legal term for these responsibilities.
The term custody may make you think of supervision of the children and care for their basic needs for food, shelter, etc. According to the Illinois General Assembly, this is physical custody, and it is only one side of the coin. The other aspect is legal custody.
What does legal custody include?
If you have legal custody of your children, it means that you have the authority to make certain decisions on their behalf. Such decisions may relate to issues such as the health care, religious upbringing and education the children will receive. It is very rare for one parent to have sole legal custody. Regardless of the physical custody arrangements, divorced parents almost always share legal custody.
What does physical custody include?
Physical custody refers to the division of the children’s time between the two parents and where the children live. Sometimes one parent has custody primarily and the other parent has visitation with the children. In other cases, each parent receives roughly equal amounts of time with the children over weekends, overnights and holidays.
The court bases these decisions on the interests of the children. In other words, if the court determines that your children would benefit from spending nearly equal amounts of time between you and your ex-spouse, it is more likely to reflect that in the parenting orders it issues in your case.
Physical custody is a somewhat outdated term. It is now more common, and preferable under the current law, to refer to such arrangements as parenting time schedules or parenting agreements.