Finding Custody and Visitation Solutions
Child custody and visitation are areas, which in an ideal world, would be settled amicably by the parents taking into consideration the parenting skills of each parent and the best interests of the child. However, in reality, parents often have pretty significant reasons for getting divorced. Sometimes these reasons revolve around one spouse trying to protect the children from the other spouse. In Illinois, determination of child custody is based on the best interest of the child standard.
For the child, it is the best if he/she grows up with both parents because this way they can get the greatest experience while growing up. Taking away one parent from a child, especially at some young age can affect their life and future, that’s why it is always the best if both parents have some contact with their child. In some cases, if the divorce was happening for the simple reason of adults not liking each other anymore, then there can be arranged some visitation solutions that will allow both parents to connect with their child. Unfortunately, in most cases that is not the way things go and people are divorcing just to protect their child and provide them with a safer and brighter future.
In cases like that, usually one of the parents will get the full custody of the child and the other one will not be allowed to contact the family anymore. Having mutual satisfaction is key to having a happy child because growing up without a parent can be very difficult. Usually, if the child is very young they are being affected even more because they never get to experience what it is like to have both parents raising them.
In matters involving child custody, the Steele Law Firm will try to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement prior to going to trial. If we are unable to achieve a pre-trial settlement that meets your needs, we will vigorously and aggressively represent your interests at trial.
The Best Interest of the Child
As a preliminary matter in determining the best interest of the child, a court will often look at which parent has been the primary caregiver of the child. Specifically, the court may ask the following questions in determining who the primary caregiver of the child has been:
Who has the child lived with?
Who prepared the child’s meals?
Who prepares the child for school including in the morning as well as with respect to the child’s homework?
Who schedules and takes the child to doctor’s, dentist’s and any other appointments, as necessary?
Who stays home when the child is sick and unable to go to school?
As the child matures, the court may seek the child’s input regarding who the child’s residential custodian will be. However, one should be extremely cautious about trying to influence a child’s decision in a custody dispute. The psychological effects of the child being asked to choose between parents may be devastating if not dealt with in an appropriate manner being sensitive to the child’s desire to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents.
The court may appoint some Guardian Ad litem for the child. The guardian advocates in court for the child’s best interests and will investigate and report to the court regarding the facts and circumstances in dispute. Often the guardian will make recommendations to the judge.
Additionally, an attorney may be appointed to represent the child’s interest. Any attempt by a parent to influence the child will be readily apparent to the attorney who is appointed to represent the child and such attempted influence may weigh against the parent.
The court may also appoint a psychologist to do a psychological profile of the family to help the judge make a decision concerning the best interest of the children.
In determining child custody, the allocation of parental responsibilities must be considered. Parental responsibilities fall into two categories:
Decision-making – which includes educational, medical and religious decisions.
Parenting time – Many states have guidelines that divide “parenting time” between the parents, however, Illinois does not have such guidelines. As every situation is different, Illinois courts look to the intricacies of the parent-child relationship in each individual case.
Usually, decision-making responsibilities are shared between the two parties. However, if the parents can’t agree, the judge could award sole decision-making responsibility to one parent.
While both parties may have parenting time, it may be unequal. The child or children may live with one parent 90 percent of the time and with the other parent 10 percent of the time. The party with the majority of parenting time (meaning overnights) is often called the custodial parent.
Our child custody attorneys believe in creating a unique parental responsibility plan specifically tailored to each family’s needs. Oftentimes, these cases call for an evaluation of parents and/or children before any decisions can be made. At the Steele Law Firm, we are equipped to offer experienced counsel in these situations and with matters where a child needs a legal representative or child and family investigator.
When the parties are unable to resolve child custody issues, we can explore alternative ways of reaching a settlement.
Our lawyers are experienced in representing parents, grandparents and other third parties in proceedings where a grandparent or third party seeks child custody and visitation rights.
A parent may wish to relocate outside of Illinois following a divorce, taking their child or children with them. Court approval is often required before this can happen. Our lawyers are experienced both in requesting relocation and in representing the parent who opposes such a move.
Child Custody Modifications
In any divorce, parenting time, decision-making, and time schedules are subject to the continuing jurisdiction of the court, and one or more “modification” suits may arise after the divorce. As children grow, their needs and schedules change. What was in the best interests of a child at age five might not be in the best interests at age 13. If parenting time changes, child support may also be affected.
Contacting an Illinois Child Custody or Visitation Attorney
If you are dealing with an Illinois child custody or visitation matter, you need the advice and assistance of a skilled, experienced child custody attorney to help you protect you, your children, and all of your legal rights Contact us or give us a call today at (312) 893-5888 or 1-800-DIVORCE (in Northern Illinois) to learn more about how we can help you or set up a FREE consultation.
We Can Assist You With:
- Matrimonial Law
- Family Law
- Domestic Relations
- Dissolution of Marriage and Legal Separation
- Litigation in Trial Courts
- Negotiated Settlements
- Alternative Dispute Resolution, such as Collaborative Law and Mediation
- Appeals to Reviewing Courts
- Financial Discovery and Analysis
- Property Division
- Retirement Benefits
- Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs)
- Child Custody, including Joint Custody and Sole Custody
- Child Visitation
- Child Support
- Child Abductions
- Maintenance, formerly known as Alimony
- Spousal Support
- Marital Settlement Agreements
- Premarital Agreements
- Postnuptial Agreements
- Domestic Violence
- Post-Decree and Post-Judgment Issues and Modifications
- Restraining Orders
- Separation Agreements