For many families, divorce is a long, pitched battle. Both sides probably have a desired outcome in mind, and there probably isn’t much overlap between spouses. It is common for each parent to want to secure more time with the children. These rights, called parental allocation in Illinois, are important for the whole family.
When the courts decide custody in a divorce, their main focus is always the best interests of the children. Usually, the courts understand that those interests involve both parents maintaining a relationship with the kids. Sometimes, however, there are extenuating circumstances that make shared custody dangerous or unhealthy for the children. Understanding what circumstances the courts consider when determining parental allocation can help you understand if you have a case for sole custody.
The courts frown on abuse and addiction
Parental allocation means that you have responsibility for all the needs of the children. When they are in your custody, you must feed them, clothe them, care for their medical needs and otherwise ensure they are growing up healthy.
When a parent has serious mental health issues, such as an addiction, that may prevent them from providing adequate care to the child. Even loving parents with an addiction problem may struggle to interact appropriately with the children and provide for their basic needs. Any arrest related to alcohol or drugs could impact custody outcomes.
In cases where there is documentation of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, the courts may also hesitate to give custodial rights to that parent. Child abuse is the more serious concern, but the courts will also consider spousal abuse if the children were present or witnessed the abuse. In a situation with abuse or addiction, the courts are likely to award parental allocation and responsibilities to the healthier parent.
Denying visitation or undermining the parental relationship can impact custody, too
People get very emotional during divorces. They often use anything they can to lash out at their ex, including their children. Deprecating your spouse to your children or refusing to let your children see their other parent can actually hurt you more than your ex.
The courts will see that as a failure to put the kids first, as well as, potentially, parental alienation. Your ex may have the right to push back, asking the courts to enforce the temporary custody agreement. More importantly, your unwillingness to work with your ex could hurt your case in the future.
In most other situations, the courts expect to see co-parenting
Barring serious issues, such as abuse, addiction or parental alienation, judges in the Illinois family court system expect both parents to focus on what the kids need. That usually means ensuring they have a stable home and a healthy, positive relationship with each parent. If either parent is not committed to this, the courts may adjust their decision accordingly.