In divorce petition you can request custody of the children. Child custody battles are emotionally charged, extremely costly and generally not pretty and involve a lot of parties -- lawyers, Judges, social workers, psychologists, and guardians. Women do not necessarily automatically get custody. It would seem like this is the case because traditionally women have been the primary caretakers of children in a relationship. But as times have changed so have traditional gender roles and the notion of primary caretaker of a child is not necessarily tied to gender. Courts determine custody based on the "best interests of the child" standard which is outlined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), 750 ILCS 5/101, et seq., and which states:
The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interest of the child. The court shall consider all relevant factors including:
(1) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to his custody;
(2) the wishes of the child as to his custodian;
(3) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
(4) the child’s adjustment to his home, school and community;
(5) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
(6) the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person;
(7) the occurrence of ongoing abuse . . . whether directed against the child or directed against another person;
(8) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
(9) whether one of the parents is a sex offender; and
(10) the terms of a parent’s military family-care plan that a parent must complete before deployment if a parent is a member of the United States Armed Forces who is being deployed.
This isn't a simple issue so you should really consider meeting with an attorney to discuss your situation in more detail.
Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about child custody law.