Joint Custody of a child/children requires both parents to cooperate in deciding the major issues affecting their children, including, but not limited to major medical needs, religious training, and education. The parties must be able to cooperate effectively and consistently in matters that directly affect the joint parenting of the child/children. When there is a disagreement on the major issues affecting the child/children, the parties are required to proceed to mediation to attempt to settle their differences before proceeding to court.
When the parents of a child are unable to cooperate in matters directly relating to the major decisions in a child's life (i.e. religious training, education, and major medical issues), then Sole Custody is appropriate. Sole Custody designates one of the parties as the sole custodian, who decides the major issues in a child's life. Sole Custody does not mean that the other parent is not allowed to have parenting (visitation) with the child. This is a common misconception and is inaccurate. Additionally, both parties are entitled to medical, dental,, child care and school records, whether the designation is sole or joint custody. 750 ILCS 5 / 602.1
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See 750 ILCS 5 / 602, which defines what is in a child's best interests