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. But when the other party demonstrates unacceptable behavior or their lifestyle poses a danger to your youngster, it’s imperative to take legal steps to ensure your child is kept out of harm’s way.

At Wolfe & Stec, we work with loving parents who want to know how to obtain full custody in Illinois and take proactive measures to keep their child secure. If you feel it may be necessary to take sole custody, these are things good parents need to know.

What is Sole Custody?

It’s 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, healthcare, and extracurricular activities, among others. If awarded sole custody, you would take on the responsibility of making all the major and minor decisions affecting your child.

If your sole custody petition to the court is successful, the child 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 meeting with an experienced child custody lawyer, community members can discuss the unique details involving their family challenges in a safe, confidential environment. Sometimes the essential question isn’t how to get full custody of a child in Illinois. It’s what does sole custody look like after the legal process comes to a close. That being said, these rank among the common benefits families experience after securing sole custody in Illinois.

  • Peacefulness: Severing ties 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 full custody allows a loving parent to do 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’s 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 worldviews are generally not a plausible reason 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’s the starting point a good parent must overcome to gain sole custody. Although you see reasons why your child is better off not spending time with the other party, these rank among the factors judges usually consider when determining fitness:

  • Incarceration: A family court judge may be inclined to terminate someone’s parental rights while 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 too 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 wellbeing of the child.
  • Abuse: Families that struggle with economic hardship, addiction, and other issues too often 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’s 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 a Herculean task. That’s why everyday people usually work with an experienced child custody lawyer and undergo a consultation before moving forward. That being said, these are steps to bringing a sole custody civil action:

  • File Paperwork: This may involve filing a petition to modify an existing divorce decree or previous child custody order. New cases generally require additional paperwork.
  • Court Orders: If violence or substance abuse makes contact dangerous, a restraining order can also be requested with the sole custody filing.
  • Serve the Other Party: Notification 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 service or a waiver 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 conduct with the unfit party. And a detailed parenting plan helps indicate the child’s best interests are served by remaining under your exclusive care. That’s why it’s crucial to have a skilled child custody lawyer 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 doesn’t share that core value, it’s time to take determined legal action to ensure your child remains safe at all times. At Wolfe & Stec, we work with responsible people to secure sole custody arrangements. If you are considering a custody change, call our legal team at (630) 305-0222 and 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 ]