Illinois Child Custody Laws: What You Should Know
When children are involved in a divorce, the stakes increase. Their world is falling apart around them, and they have barely begun to live their life. Child custody arrangements in this stressed environment can be a challenge. You should hire child custody lawyers in Schaumburg to make the transition easier. Before that, check out our guide on Illinois child custody laws you should be aware of.
Establish Paternity First
Before discussing child custody laws in Illinois, establish parentage over the children. This is a process that will set you as their legal parent. You can do this in three ways, i.e., via:
This usually starts in court when one parent initiates the custody and support process, and the other two methods have not been initiated.
Your parentage is presumed if the children are born within your marriage or during a particular time before it. In this case, both parents are mentioned on their birth certificates and have rights to their children.
You sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage (VAP) form at the hospital where your child is born. It has to be signed by both parents to be legally binding.
Allocating Parental Responsibilities
Once the paternity is established, the child custody case can commence in court, i.e., allocating parental responsibilities for both parents. This includes essential decisions about the children’s upbringing, such as their:
- Personal tutors.
- Choice of schools.
- Religious education and teachings.
- Psychological treatments.
- Extracurricular activities.
If the parents cannot agree on these aspects, the court intervenes.
How Illinois Courts Treat Child Custody Cases
Illinois changed its child custody laws significantly to provide a balanced approach to the process so both parents can benefit. Some years ago, a parent could have sole custody of a child, and the other would only get visitation rights. Today, courts in Illinois ensure both parents have a role in their children’s future and upbringing.
To do that, parents have to create a shared parenting plan. It has to include activities to maximize their role in their child’s life and protect the latter’s best interests. They can decide to split their responsibilities as well.
For example, one parent can be responsible for making healthcare and schooling decisions while the other can take them on vacations and their religious upbringing.
However, relocation has become trickier in the bargain. As per the outdated law, the parent who had sole custody of the children could move them anywhere in the state without getting approval from the other parent or the court. That is not the case today.
Now, most Illinois counties require court approval if a parent with sole custody wishes to take a child more than 25 or 50 miles from their resident state. So when you want to assert your parenting rights, please don’t do it alone. Check with child custody lawyers in Schaumburg first so you know your rights. A qualified and experienced attorney can make all the difference.
Whether you and your ex are determining parenting time or who will make decisions for the children, the court will have the final say. The decision will rest on whether the court thinks it is in the child’s best interests.
How the Court Settles Child Custody Matters
Legal and physical custody are different in the eyes of the court. The former pertains to the decision-making responsibilities of a parent, and the latter refers to who keeps the children with them daily. Here is what happens during a child custody case in Illinois:
Parents try to create a custody arrangement
The separating couple tries to create a child custody arrangement that can work for both. At this point, each hires child custody lawyers in Schaumburg. When they agree on the division of responsibilities, a joint parenting plan is made. It also mentions who has legal and physical custody of the children.
If parents cannot agree on a custody plan, they are ordered by the court to get mediation via a certified mediator. This is a neutral attorney, but they can also be a therapist or psychologist. The proceedings are highly confidential and are not legally binding. It is a last-ditch effort by the court to help couples agree in the best interests of their children.
The Court’s Decision
If mediation falls through, the judge has to decide on parenting responsibilities based on appropriate laws and statutes. The stages can differ from one case to another. It can include a GAL investigation, testimonials, and even a home evaluation to determine the quality of care that each parent can provide. The laws around these cases can get quite complex and contain legal jargon that can be difficult to understand.
During the process, both parties’ attorneys try to convince officials to rule in their client’s favor using different arguments. At this point, you need strong representation that can show them why you are a good parent. All child custody arguments are based on the best interests of the children involved.
How the court determines legal child custody
The court aims to determine the child’s best interests, and legal custody is determined accordingly. Some of the factors that they consider include the following:
- The wishes and needs of the children.
- The wishes of either parent.
- The physical and mental health of all parties involved.
- How much the parents participated in making important decisions about their children.
- Previous agreements on decision-making involving the children.
- If the parents can support a positive relationship with each other.
- How far the parents live and how the distance affects their ability to cooperate.
- Whether any of the parents threatened the children’s mental, physical or emotional health.
- How well do the children adjust to separate homes, the community, school, etc.
- If there is any abuse involved. This can include the parents and anyone else living in the family home.
- Whether a parent is a sex offender and if they are, the nature of the offense will be considered.
And other factors that are deemed essential by the court.
How the court determines physical child custody
Physical custody or parenting time is also based on the child’s best interests. Illinois courts determine who has this custody by looking at the facts mentioned above as well as the following:
- The amount of time each parent spent with the child in the last couple of years.
- The wishes of both parents.
- The child’s relationship with siblings and family members in their home, such as a grandparent.
- The terms of the military family care plan if either parent is in the military.
- Whether the court has to restrict parenting time.
- The ability of either parent to prioritize the child’s needs.
And other factors that the court deems necessary. Since each child custody case is different, other facts may also be considered. Unless anyone can prove otherwise, the court does not place restrictions on parenting time. A judge may do this if the child’s emotional, physical, and mental health is at stake.
This is not to say that the parent with parenting time can make all the critical decisions for their children. Both have the right to make emergency healthcare decisions if the other parent is not available to do so during their time.
The court prefers that both parents have access to the children and also take part in their upbringing. They are more likely to accommodate a request for termination of biological parental rights if the parent’s current partner is willing to adopt the children and is married to them or about to.
If that is the case, the process is quite simple. But if their partner refuses or doesn’t want to get married, the other parent can say they are unfit as a parent. For that, they need to provide proof of neglect or abuse the children suffered under the other parent’s care. They can also ask for immediate removal of the children if they think they are in danger with the other parent. In most cases, you can also fight for full custody.
Contact The Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, P.C For A Consultation Today!
If you are searching for reliable and dedicated child custody lawyers in Schaumburg, contact the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, P.C. today by dialing (847) 241-1299. We work closely with each client at every stage of their divorce and child custody proceedings and work hard to ensure the best results. We aim to protect your rights and ensure you can take a load off throughout a trial or mediation.
We understand how challenging and emotionally draining child custody processes can be. Allow our attorneys to take the reins so you can focus on healing yourself and your family. All of our consultations are strictly confidential, so you can rest assured your ex will not get any information from our side.
The last thing you need right now is more paperwork. We can take care of the legal paperwork required for your case and create a legal strategy that can protect your best interests. Our ultimate goal is to ensure you and your family have a bright and happier future. Contact us today! Your ex may already be working to discredit your parenting skills. We can get ahead as soon as you hire us.