In Illinois, what used to be called child custody is now called parenting responsibilities. The state made this change in 2016 to better reflect that what is in the best interests of the child is allocating parenting responsibilities, not necessarily awarding one parent custody and one parent visitation hours. To learn more about parenting responsibilities and our lawyers in Libertyville and Waukegan, Illinois, please call our law firm at 847-599-9101.
Child Custody Issues in Illinois
In the context of divorce, custody issues may be arranged one of two ways:
- In a parenting plan, also called a joint parenting agreement. This arrangement is usually preferable as it involves the two ex-spouses working out the terms of parenting responsibilities with the help of their lawyers.
- As part of an allocation judgement, which is ordered by the court when the parents are unable or unwilling to agree to parenting terms.
The allocation judgement is decided based on many factors, with the ultimate guiding factor being what is in the best interest of the child. That may involve consideration of where the child goes to school, which parent has traditionally been the primary caretaker, and the child's preferences. These judgements are typically decided in a trial, and may include witnesses and expert testimony. These decisions are gender neutral, so a mother does not have a presumption of custody.
Parenting responsibilities in Illinois designate each parent's time with the child, as well as each parent's share of decision-making responsibilities, which fall into 4 categories:
- Extra-curricular and after-school activities
Decision-making responsibilities are determined in a parenting plan or allocation judgement. They do not have to be equally split among the parents. In fact, one parent may be allocated decision-making in all 4 categories. Most often, these decisions are divided between the parents based on what is best for the child.
As for time spent with the child, many factors are considered, including how much time is spent with the child currently. Another factor is where the child goes to school. Sometimes the court seeks to split time evenly or otherwise fairly between parents, but not always.
Ex-spouses disputing child custody may wish to attend mediation to attempt to resolve the issue. Our lawyers can help you make the most of mediation to make a Joint Parenting Agreement.
If the mediation is not successful, we will guide you through discovery, pretrial conferences and eventually trial. During the process the court may appoint a guardian ad litem, child representative or lawyer for the child. The court may also appoint its own investigator to make recommendations to the court.
Your Consultation with Experienced Family Lawyers
Our law firm fights compassionately on behalf of clients dealing with child custody matters in Illinois. We know how trying these matters are. We serve as calm, skilled advocates to help you resolve this issue with your spouse in the best way possible and in the best way for you and your child. To arrange a consultation, please call our law firm at 847-599-9101.