Joint custody in Illinois is defined as the legal custody of a child or children that is shared between two parents after a divorce or separation. Parental responsibilities are split between the estranged couple in order to provide for the child(ren) as equally as possible. There are major decisions that go into figuring out custody, and all factors must be kept in mind, the well-being of the minor child or children being the most important.
When parents elect to dissolve their marriage, they must undergo a child custody process. The custody rights hearing will depend on a variety of factors, such as the procedures in the court where custody was filed, whether or not a joint parenting plan was decided upon prior to the hearing, and parenting situations.
What are the Most Common Joint Custody Schedules?
There are several child custody options and schedules to choose from when figuring out what visitation schedule works for the parents and for the child(ren). The most common types of child custody are alternating weeks, two weeks, 60/40 split, mid-week overnights, 2-2-3, and 2-2-5-5.
The alternating week's physical custody schedule is a 50/50 residential split, meaning the child will spend one week with one parent, and the next with the other parent. This is a schedule that is kept in repetition for the entire year and is typically considered the easiest way to split parenting time. This creates a consistent and clear schedule for simplicity and repetition and helps children acclimate to new school schedules, daily parenting time, child care, and new routines. Though alternating weeks are often the most common and easiest joint custody plan, this is not to say there are no drawbacks or issues.
The most consistent issue seen, specifically with younger children, is the separation issue of not seeing one parent (typically the legal custody holder) for the duration of the alternating week. This arrangement will largely depend on age and typically works best for older children and teenagers. This can sometimes lead to inadvertent unnecessary stress for younger children, as it is essential for children to interact with both parents, as the separate interaction can negatively impact their growth and development.
Two Weeks Each
Two weeks each, similar to alternating weeks, is a 50/50 child care split between parents, where the child spends two weeks with one parent, and two weeks with the other. This plan is beneficial, as there are fewer exchanges throughout the month, and children acclimate better to the changes as they have a more extended period with each parent and is especially beneficial for parents who do not share a healthy co-parenting relationship.
This helps reduce the risk of potential parental conflict or parenting issues, works particularly well for split families who live farther apart, helps parents provide daily care and health care for their child(ren), and has the adaptability to add midweek or overnight visits. The two-week joint parenting schedules help allot equal amounts of parenting time but do allow for flexibility when necessary.
The 60/40 Parenting Schedule
The 60/40 is a schedule that has the child or children spending 60 percent of their time with the custodial parent and 40 percent of their time with the non-custodial parent. This scheduling option is beneficial for parents who want substantial time with their child or children, but the alternating or two-week schedules have too many exchanges. This is a great solution for a parallel parenting agreement.
This split means that the child or children spend 4 nights per week with one parent (the "60%" parent), and 3 nights per week with the other parent (the "40%" parent). This plan can be alternated by week, which helps balance parenting responsibilities and allocation of parenting time/joint parenting time, which helps accurately dole out decision-making responsibilities between parents, and may help children better follow separate sets of rules for each household.
A mid-week overnight visitation is a joint custody situation in which a child or children spend a majority of their week with the parent who has residential custody/is considered the residential parent, while the noncustodial parent has the child/children for an overnight stay at some point during the week.
Mid-week overnight schedules are not considered an ideal model of child care due to the potential for learning and emotional disruption experienced by the child or children. Mid-week overnight visitation has been argued in court as a childcare plan that does not keep the child/children's best interest in mind.
A 2-2-3 schedule means that children are with one parent for two days, then with the other parent for two days. The following day, the children will return to the first parent for three days and follow with the other parent for three days. Much like any other visitation schedule, this scheduling type has plenty of pros and cons. Individuals who pick this plan choose it due to children having somewhat equal visitation with parents each week, the structure is settled and easily implemented or adjusted as necessary, families having equal decision-making power, balanced child support obligation due to the matching time spent between households, and works spectacularly for families with small children who are not of school age.
However, this is not to say it does not come with its share of complications as well. Families who implement the 2-2-3 schedule can find that major decisions can affect how care and time are distributed among households, parents have to take extra time to keep each other informed of school work and activities, which is not ideal for parents who are not amicable. Families that use a 2-2-3 schedule must live in close proximity to each other, and to the school their children attend.
A 2-2-5-5 schedule is similar to a 50/50 schedule, as a child will spend 2 days with one parent, 2 days with the other, then 5 days with one parent, and 5 days with the other. This is often referred to as a perfect custody action for most families, as it provides a consistent environment for the children, does not force a child into a constant stream of rotation between households, and is typically ideal for school-aged children.
This arrangement is not without its own set of custody issues, however. Children with busy schedules due to school activities, and families who are required to make medical decisions for sick children may have a more difficult time coming to a resolution with this schedule and could pose issues in the event that parents do not live in particularly close proximity.
How Does Child Support Work in Joint Custody Arrangements?
Many families facing divorce share one common question: do I still have to pay child support if I share joint custody with the other co-parent? The short answer is yes, though it is not always an easy resolution to come to. When one parent has sole custody, the other parent provides financial support for food/clothing/shelter for their child. However, when custody is split between both parents, basic child necessities are shared, which could lead to parents believing that the state child support laws are not applicable to them when they very well could be.
The goal of child support laws is to ensure that children are able to have the same standard of living that they would have if their parents were still together. Child support is calculated by the gross income of each parent, which includes public assistance or a retirement plan. The child support itself is a percentage, roughly 20% for one child with another 10% for each additional child if applicable, of that combined gross income of each parent. This is then split between the two parents, though this can vary based on other factors.
The Illinois court will consider any other factors, such as any financial resources for the child, financial resources of the custodial parent, the child's standard of living if the parents were still married/together, the emotional and physical condition of the child, their educational needs, and the financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent. Child support typically includes childcare expenses, health insurance, medical expenses, educational expenses, and travel expenses. Child support payments must be made until the child is 19, or 21 if still in high school. Child support, however, becomes indefinite in the event that the child is unable to care for themselves due to a physical or mental disability.
Can Joint-Custody Parents Make Modifications to their Parenting Plan?
Parents can absolutely make modifications to their parenting plan. There are two options to altering the court orders - those being the parenting plan, parenting time schedule, and child support award - parents must agree on any and all changes, or ask the court to rule on disputed changes. No matter what the families choose, the court will only modify orders under specific circumstances - the most important being the best interest and well-being of the children involved. Courts typically only order modifications if a family has a significant change in circumstances, such as a long-distance move, a long-term change to a parent's work schedule, a change in the ability to care for the child, or a shift in childcare needs.
Contact Tommalieh Law Today!
Our experienced family law attorney at Tommalieh Law will help you navigate the legal process that comes with child custody. Tamir cares for his clients as if they are his own family and designs custom strategies to help get the best results possible for your case. Call Tommalieh Law today for a free consultation at 708-232-0017.