If you are a parent, your children are probably a top priority in your divorce. You may be well aware of the profound impact divorce often has on children and want to ensure that you do whatever you can to minimize your kids’ suffering. You may hold strong opinions about the child custody arrangements that are best for your kids after a divorce. What happens if these opinions differ from the other parent’s opinions? How are child custody disputes handled in Illinois?
In Illinois, child custody is now referred to as “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” Parental responsibilities primarily include the parents’ authority to make major child-related decisions. Parents may decide that one parent is in charge of the child’s education, extracurriculars, religious training, and other important matters, or the parents may share decision-making responsibility. Parenting time, which used to be called “visitation,” is the time that a child spends in the care of each parent. Parents are asked to complete a parenting plan that describes how parental responsibilities, parenting time, and other important matters will be handled. The parenting plan is submitted to the court for approval. However, some parents cannot reach an agreement on child custody concerns on their own.
If parents disagree about one or more elements of their parenting plan, they have several options. Do not assume that just because you and your child’s other parent hold differing opinions that you are destined for a contentious child custody trial. In many cases, help from a child custody attorney combined with family law mediation can help a couple reach an out-of-court agreement. A skilled family lawyer may be able to help you and your spouse negotiate the terms of the parenting plan and find a mutually agreeable solution.
If you cannot reach an out-of-court agreement, your case may go to trial. During a child custody trial, each party’s attorney presents arguments and evidence to the court. The judge evaluates all of the evidence and makes a decision that he or she feels is in the child’s best interests. Sometimes, a guardian ad litem is assigned to the case to investigate the situation and offer a recommendation to the court. If you suspect that your child custody case will be contentious, it is vital that you work with a skilled attorney experienced in child custody matters.
If you are a divorcing parent, contact the DuPage County family law attorneys at J. Aldrich Law, P.C. for help with parenting plans, child custody, child support, and much more. Call 630-953-3000 to schedule a free consultation.