Illinois Shared Parenting Laws: How does Illinois law promote shared parenting?

Understanding Illinois Shared Parenting Laws

In the state of Illinois, family law has evolved to recognize the importance of both parents in the life of a child. Shared parenting, also known as joint custody, is an arrangement where both parents take active roles in raising their child post-separation or divorce. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides guidelines that strongly encourage shared parenting arrangements, aiming to ensure that children continue to have a stable and consistent relationship with both parents.

The Legal Framework for Shared Parenting

Under Illinois law, shared parenting is based on the concept of allocating significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. Decision-making responsibilities can include decisions about education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. The law does not presume that a 50/50 split of time is always in the best interest of the child but rather looks at a variety of factors to determine a fair division of parenting time and responsibilities.

Factors Considered in Shared Parenting Arrangements

The courts consider several factors when determining shared parenting arrangements. These factors include but are not limited to:

Promotion of Shared Parenting in Illinois Law

Illinois law promotes shared parenting by requiring parents to submit a proposed parenting plan before custody decisions are finalized. This plan should outline each parent's proposals for how they will handle significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. The state encourages parents to work together to create a mutually agreeable plan that serves the child's best interests.

Historical Shift Towards Shared Parenting

Historically, one parent (often the mother) was typically awarded sole custody, with the other parent receiving visitation rights. However, over time, societal perceptions have shifted towards recognizing the benefits of shared parenting. Research has shown that children generally fare better when they maintain strong relationships with both parents following a separation or divorce.

Shared Parenting Plans: An Example

An example of a shared parenting arrangement might be one where one parent assumes responsibility for educational decisions while both parents equally share healthcare decisions. Alternatively, parents may choose to alternate weeks with their child or divide the week into specific days for each parent.


Illinois law reflects a modern understanding that shared parenting can be in the best interests of the child. By considering a multitude of factors and encouraging cooperation between parents, Illinois aims to create favorable environments for children after parental separation. While navigating through these legal processes can be complex, the ultimate goal is clear: fostering healthy child development through continued parental involvement.