A Custody Judgment is a final court order that dictates custody of minor children, as well as a visitation and holiday schedule, and general parenting rules. Every Custody Judgment is different and unique under the parties’ specific circumstances. Not every divorcing family celebrates the same holidays, has the same religion or has the same traditions. In most situations, holidays will be alternated between the parties. However, in some families, certain holidays are more important than others. For instance, if Mom’s family has a family reunion every single Labor Day weekend, then Mom may have the children for every single Labor Day weekend, and Dad may then have every Memorial Day weekend in exchange.
Parenting rules also vary within each agreement. Some parents choose to put a burden on each other to communicate regarding certain issues before any major decisions are made for the children. This is more common in a Joint Custody agreement, and can also provide the parties must mediate before any major decision (non-life threatening) is made. A Custody Judgment may also contain rules about third parties being introduced to the children, who will watch the children when the parents are unavailable, when the parties can take the children on vacation, which school breaks the parties have visitation with the children during, and more. There are many different things that can be incorporated into a Custody Judgment, which is why parties are encouraged to mediate these agreements. That way, they are able to form their own agreement rather than letting a Judge order an agreement or Custody Judgment. Judges are not as intimately familiar with the parties’ traditions, religions and important dates, and don’t always have the ability to take these requests into consideration.
Finally, whether the Custody Judgment is mediated or ordered by a Judge, it is a final order upon entry. This is true even if a divorce case is still pending. In fact, Illinois Supreme Court Rules provide that the custody portion of any litigation should be completed within eighteen months, even if the divorce is not final. Our attorneys have a lot of experience in drafting Custody Judgments and assisting clients in mediating same. Please contact our office for a consultation.