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Child custody decisions are usually not either / or

Child custody decisions are seldom resolved in an either / or manner. To be sure, sometimes one parent will get sole custody, such as in serious domestic violence or substance abuse cases. But normally most custody cases result in some form of shared custody.

After a divorce in Illinois, then, parents should probably expect a child custody arrangement in which both parents remain involved in the child’s life. In other words, in most cases joint custody is the norm. Another term for this is shared custody.

Traditionally, of course, the assumption was that children would go with their mothers as the primary caregiver. But today, there is more recognition of the roles that both parents play — and the right of both parents to be involved in their children’s lives.

This right generally continues even after a divorce has left one parent with primary physical custody. Visitation arrangements can become more complicated when parents live far apart from each other. But a divorce settlement normally provides that they must be made.

In a hotly contested divorce, however, one parent may believe that the other is genuinely not fit to be a parent. This could be because of domestic violence issues, criminal activity, substance abuse or some other concern.

Sadly, it is these notorious battles that many people think of when they hear the phrase “child custody.” Those cases, though, are the exception, not the rule.

The much more common scenario involves parents working out the details of shared custody. These cases are not about either / or decisions. One might say they are about both / and decisions. They involve both parents and the child.

Source: Top Three Concerns of Divorcing Moms,” Huffington Post, Natalie Gregg, 4-26-13

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