Illinois Child Custody Attorneys
Serving Chicagoland including Cook, Will, DuPage & Lake Counties
Who will get custody of our child / children?
The court determines custody according to what are in the best interest of the child / children. Attorneys never turn down cases, or so the stereotype has it. But at The Walters Law Group, Ltd., we frequently decline to take child custody or visitation cases that appear to be malicious or do not have the best interests of children at heart.
In making this decision, the court will consider some of the following factors:
- The wishes of the parents
- If a child is of a certain age (usually over the age of 13), a court may take that child’s wishes into consideration
- The mental fitness of each parent
- The physical fitness of each parent
- The emotional bond between the parent and the child
- The structure that each parent would provide
- The living arrangements that each parent would provide for the child
- The child’s relationship with each of the parents
- The child’s home, school and local community adjustment
- Any past and ongoing acts of violence by a parent against the other parent and child / children
If the parents cannot agree on custody and have to go to court, the process may become extremely expensive. The court may appoint a Child’s Representative or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the best interests of the child.
What is sole custody? What is joint custody?
Joint custody may be awarded in situations where the parents are able to cooperate and communicate effectively in all matters directly related to matters related to the well being of the the child or children. Joint custody means that the parents share equal responsibility in making major decisions regarding the children, such as education, health care, and religion.
This joint parenting agreement will specify where the child / children will live, and what each parents rights and responsibilities are as to the child. The agreement also includes a means for resolving disputes over parenting issues.
Sole custody is awarded by the court when one parent is not suitable to be responsible for the decisions affecting the child or the parents are unable to cooperate effectively in order to engage in a joint custody arrangement or relationship. This designation will give one of the parents the authority to decide on all the major issues of a child’s life.
Sole custody does not mean that the other parent is not allowed visitation with the child and joint custody does not mean equal parenting time. Physical parenting time is determined according to a visitation schedule agreed upon by the parties, or ordered by the court. A visitation schedule may provide for equal or near-equal parenting time, or it may provide that one parent has the child a greater amount of time than the other parent.
Additionally, both parents are entitled to medical, dental, child care, and school records, whether custody is sole or joint.
Contested Child Custody Litigation
If child custody and visitation agreements cannot be reached between you and the other parent, you may need to become more aggressive to ensure that the best interests of your children are addressed.
To do this, the court will refer parents to mediation, whether private or through county sponsored services. They may further appoint an attorney, called a Child Representative, or a Guardian ad litem, to represent what they believe to be in the child’s best interests. If taken further, the Court can appoint specialists in the field of child psychology as expert witnesses in a contested custody or visitation case.
Given our experience, we can best help you understand and prepare for these very important, and potentially life altering evaluations. We know what they mean. We know how they are used. We know how to best represent your interests, and how to meet those of your children.
Some Common Child Custody Questions We Can Help With:
If both parents share custody does anyone pay child support?
Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?
When can my child decide which parent to live with?
Do grandparents have custody and visitation rights?
What is a parenting plan, and do I need one?
When will child custody be decided?
When can I modify custody? Can Custody be modified?
What will happen if we cannot agree on a custody arrangement?
What should I know before attending a child custody trial?
Will my child / children need to appear in court?
What if my spouse wants to move the kids out state?
Do I still have to pay child custody if I lose my job?
Additionally, there is a good article by Child Welfare Information Gateway on Determining the Best Interests of the Child.
Child Custody Lawyers Perform Many Services
Custody issues often flow into other issues, and we work with clients to address these as well.
We can help you with:
- Child Custody Modifications
- Enforcement of divorce decrees
- Grandparents’ rights
- Modifications to divorce decrees
- Orders for protection, in cases where the child may be in danger
- Relocation and removal
Child-Centered Visitation Rights Lawyers
What is visitation?
Visitation, or parenting time, is the amount of time that each parent is entitled to spend with their child or children.
A common misconception is that custody and visitation are related – they are not. Who has custody has nothing to do with visitation. In any custody proceeding, the noncustodial parent – with some exceptions is entitled to reasonable visitation with their child / children.
In Illinois, a standard visitation schedule for a noncustodial parent is every other weekend, a night or two during the week, alternating holidays and extended time in the summer. Each case is different based on a parent’s work schedule and the schedule of the child. Ideally, The parents will come to a schedule that best suits the entire needs of the family.
A parent’s visitation might be restricted. If one parent can show that the other parent’s behavior poses “serious endangerment” to the child / children, a court may restrict that parent’s visitation. Common causes may include drug and alcohol abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or any other behavior that would have an adverse affect on the child. Restrictions can include supervised visitation by a third party, and prohibit overnight visitation or require that visitation occur in the residence of the custodial parent. Custody and visitation issues can be very emotional and stressful in divorce proceedings. The more the parents can agree and work together on what is in the best interest of the child or children, the better off the child or children will be.
In addressing custody issues, the rule is that no two situations are the same. Some problems can be resolved via mediation, or a collaborative negotiation. Then there are situations that can only be resolved through litigation. At The Walters Law Group we are adept at all of these approaches. Just like the court, we are alert to the child’s best interests, in both custody and visitation.
We have over twenty years of combined experience in handling divorce, custody and family law cases. YOU give us your confidence, WE give you the peace of mind and the results you deserve.
We help people and families in Chicago and throughout the Chicagoland suburbs.
To meet with us, call The Walters Law Group, Ltd.’s attorneys at 312-806-6700 / 708-361-9700, or e-mail us using this online form.