Call now (312) 341 – 0900

Silhouette of a man and woman standing facing away from each other with a child in between them, arms outstretched, during sunset—a poignant moment that many Chicago divorce attorneys witness in their practice.

Child Custody

Common Misconceptions about Child Custody and Parenting Time

By Corri Fetman | April 22, 2024

Child custody and parenting time arrangements frequently harbor misunderstandings, cause confusion, disputes, and undue strain for families. Within this article, we aim to dispel prevalent misconceptions concerning child custody and parenting time. We also offer insight and solutions to individuals grappling with these intricate matters.

Misconception 1: A Child’s Preference Always Determines Custody

While a child’s preference may be considered in custody proceedings, it is just one of many factors taken into account by the court. The child’s age, maturity, and reasons for their preference may be all considered but ultimately, it is the court that makes decisions based on the child’s best interests.

Misconception 2: A Mother Always Gets Custody

There is a pervasive belief that mothers are automatically awarded custody in divorce or parentage cases. However, custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child and take into account relevant factors such as parental involvement, stability, and the child’s relationship with each parent. Family courts prioritize the best interests of the child above all else, considering various factors such as the parent’s ability to provide a stable environment, their relationship with the child, and their willingness to facilitate the other parent’s involvement. Consequently, custody decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, with no automatic preference based on gender.

Misconception 3: Custody Battles are Always Contentious

While custody disputes can be contentious, many parents are able to reach amicable agreements through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law.

Misconception 4: Sole Custody Means Complete Control

In Illinois the label of sole custody does not exist any longer. Therefore, the concept of “sole custody” may grant one parent primary decision-making authority but it does not totally negate the other parent’s rights or responsibilities. Both parents typically retain important rights such as access to school and medical records and the ability to participate in major decisions affecting the child’s life.

Misconception 5: Custody Decisions are Permanent

Custody arrangements can be modified if circumstances change or if the existing arrangement is no longer in the child’s best interests. Courts understand that family dynamics evolve over time, and modifications can be made to reflect these changes. In order to modify a custody agreement, parents typically need to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances or prove that the proposed modification is in the best interests of the child. Courts encourage parents to work together to find mutually acceptable solutions but will intervene to approve modifications, if necessary.

Misconception 6: Joint Custody Means Equal Time

Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal time spent with each parent. Instead, it refers to joint decision-making authority where both parents have the right to make decisions about their child’s upbringing, education, healthcare, extracurricular activities and other important matters. While some joint parenting time arrangements do involve a roughly equal sharing of parenting time, there are other arrangements that may involve one parent having the majority of parenting time while the other has a less frequent schedule such as every other weekend.  Parenting time arrangements come in all shapes and sizes and can vary widely. All parenting time arrangements should be tailored to fit the unique needs of the child and family.

Misconception 7: Financial Support is Tied to Custody

Child Support and Custody Arrangements are separate legal matters. A parent’s obligation to provide financial support for their child is determined by state guidelines and factors such as income and the child’s needs regardless of the parenting time arrangements. It’s crucial to understand that child support and parenting time are separate legal issues and one cannot be withheld in retaliation for the other. Withholding child support as a means of punishing the other parent for denying or interfering with parenting time is unlawful. The failure to pay child support must be pursued by filing a petition in court and may result in legal consequences, including fines, wage garnishment, or even imprisonment in extreme cases.


By placing the child’s best interests at the forefront, fostering effective communication, and accessing expert advice, parents can cultivate favorable outcomes for their families. 

Unique FAQs:

  • Can grandparents seek custody or visitation rights?
    In Illinois, grandparents may petition the court for custody or parenting time if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
  • Is mediation preferable to litigation in custody disputes?
    Mediation can be a less adversarial and more cost-effective way to resolve custody disputes. However, it may not be suitable for all cases. Ultimately, the best approach depends on the specific circumstances of each situation and an assessment by a skilled family law attorney such as Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd.
  • How can parents minimize the impact of divorce on their children?
    Open communication, cooperation, and prioritizing the child’s well-being can help minimize the negative impact of divorce on children. Providing reassurance, answering questions, and acknowledging the child’s feelings can offer much-needed stability during this turbulent time. Additionally, fostering a sense of security for the children to ensure that the children feel supported and loved by both parents is extremely important. Establishing consistent routines and boundaries across both households can also help provide a sense of normalcy amidst the changes as children need consistency to thrive.

Are you ready to navigate child custody and parenting time? Our experienced team at Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd. is here to assist. Contact us today at (312) 341-0900 to schedule a consultation.

Get in touch

To Learn How We Can Help You Address These Matters

Follow Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd. on Social Media