How to Get Sole Custody in Illinois

sole custody

If you are planning to file for divorce or are a single parent, you may have questions about the courts and custody arrangements. The most common custody situation involves both parents spending quality time with the child to promote healthy family relationships. Sometimes, though, an arrangement becomes unsafe, and you must take action.

At Wolfe & Stec, we work with loving parents who want to know how to get full custody in Illinois and take proactive measures to keep their children secure. When the other parent demonstrates unacceptable behavior or their lifestyle poses a danger to your youngster, you must take legal steps to keep your child out of harm’s way. Contact us to learn more about your options.

How to Get Custody of a Child in Illinois

It is important to understand that the state does not necessarily use the common term “child custody.” During the process, you are likely to hear court officials discuss things such as “parenting duties.” The court often considers these responsibilities in education, health care, and extracurricular activities, among others.

If your sole custody petition to the court is successful, you will take on the responsibility of making all the major and minor decisions affecting your child. They will live with you full-time.

The non-custodial parent may lose their right to visitation, or the court may impose stringent guidelines and limited time.

When you meet with an experienced child custody lawyer, you can discuss the unique details involving your family challenges in a safe, confidential environment. Sometimes the essential question is not how to get full custody of a child in Illinois, it is what sole custody looks like after the legal process comes to a close. Achieving sole custody can bring many benefits to your family, including:

  • Peacefulness: Severing ties with the other parent can reduce the conflict between parents and lower the stress suffered by children.
  • Decision-making: Not every parent possesses clear thinking that connects health and wellness to core values. Having sole custody allows a loving parent to provide more of what the child needs to flourish as a person.
  • Consistency: Unfit parents tend to plague the visitation process with inconsistency. Children generally do better when their home life and parenting interactions are predictable and routine. Sole custody helps the responsible parent create a stable environment.
  • Safety: Too many custody cases involve an unfit parent who abuses drugs, alcohol, gambles, or engages in other forms of risky behavior. In these and other similar instances, it is in the child’s best interests to be kept away from unsavory situations.

Petitioning the court for sole custody should not be taken lightly. Issues such as different child-rearing philosophies or world views are generally not plausible reasons to affect the relationship with the other parent. Full custody can sometimes create unforeseen complications, such as resentment, a single parent’s becoming overwhelmed, or the child’s struggling with family relationships.

Factors That Influence a Sole Custody Decision

The family courts usually operate under the notion that a child is best served by having a relationship with both parents. When one parent is awarded physical placement and custody, the court prefers to provide the other with significant parenting time. That is the starting point a good parent must overcome to gain sole custody.

Seeking sole custody requires that you provide a significant amount of evidence that the action is in the best interests of the child. The other parent will need to terminate their parental rights voluntarily unless you can show substantial reasons why the court should terminate those rights against the parent’s wishes.

A judge will consider several factors when you argue that your child is better off not spending time with the other parent. Elements that can determine their fitness as a parent include:

  • Incarceration: A family court judge may be inclined to terminate someone’s parental rights while the parent is incarcerated. The nature of the conviction may also demonstrate that the person’s low moral character and dangerous behavior are reasons to give the law-abiding parent sole custody.
  • Addiction: Drug and alcohol abuse remains a driving reason for sole custody awards. People with addiction often put the desire to use drugs and alcohol over the best interests of others.
  • Mental Illness: Severe mental illness may render an otherwise loving parent unable to make good choices and act appropriately. The court may award sole custody until the condition is under control and revisit the matter later. Such decisions will be based entirely on the safety, welfare, and emotional well-being of the child.
  • Abuse: Families that struggle with economic hardship, addiction, and other issues frequently experience physical abuse. Someone who physically or sexually assaults another may be deemed an unfit parent.

The courts may also agree that sole custody is the best arrangement when a parent moves out of state or has abandoned the child. A full custody petition may be granted when visitation schedules cannot be kept and shared responsibility becomes impractical. It is essential to understand that the courts do not necessarily consider the parents’ best interests. Decisions are made to further the child’s best interests under Illinois statutes.

How to File for Sole Custody in Illinois

Understanding how to file for sole custody in Illinois may not necessarily be the most challenging part of the process. Getting a favorable ruling, on the other hand, can be highly difficult without skilled legal guidance. Most people choose to work with an experienced child custody lawyer, starting with a consultation to discuss and evaluate the situation before moving forward.

The process of filing for sole custody in Illinois in a civil action after your attorney consultation involves the following steps:

  • Filing the necessary paperwork: Your lawyer will ensure you submit the relevant forms and materials. This may involve filing a petition to modify an existing divorce decree or previous child custody order. New cases generally require additional paperwork.
  • Seeking additional appropriate court orders: If violence or substance abuse makes contact dangerous, you may need to request a restraining order to accompany the sole custody filing. You can ask that it go into effect immediately to protect you and your children until sole custody is granted.
  • Informing the other party of the action: Notification, or service, of the sole custody action must be provided to the other person. Law enforcement officials can deliver a summons and a copy of the filing. Proof of the service or a waiver from the other party is required to move forward with the case.

Persuading a judge to terminate someone’s visitation rights places a heavy burden on the responsible parent. Your filing will need supporting evidence that proves the child could suffer physically, emotionally, or psychologically by having contact with the unfit party.

Creating and including a detailed parenting plan with your petition for sole custody can indicate how the child’s best interests are served by remaining under your exclusive care. That is why it is crucial to have a skilled child custody lawyer who can make a powerfully persuasive case on your behalf.

Contact an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Illinois

Loving parents will take extraordinary measures to protect their children’s physical and emotional health. If the other parent does not share that core value, it may be time to take determined legal action to ensure your child remains safe at all times.

At Wolfe & Stec, we work with responsible individuals like you to secure sole custody arrangements. We are proud to be the firm people call when they are in need of a powerful and respected advocate. Our team values your trust in us, and we put our knowledge, integrity, and high standards to work on every case. Our clients know they can count on us to be there when they need us and to always have their best interests in mind.

If you are considering a custody change, call our legal team at (630) 305-0222 or use our online form to schedule a no-cost consultation today.

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]