In Illinois, no legal presumption favors mothers over fathers in child custody cases. Both parents have equal parental rights, and the Court makes decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time based on the child’s best interests. In cases where parents are unmarried, establishing paternity will ensure that a father will be able to assert his parental rights, and until the father is named the child’s legal parent, the mother may have sole custody of a child.
What Factors Does the Court Consider in Child Custody Cases?
When determining how issues related to child custody will be addressed, the Court may consider various factors to determine what arrangements will be in the best interests of the child. The issues considered may include the:
- Wishes of the parents.
- Wishes of the child. The child’s ability to express independent and reasoned preferences and their level of maturity may be considered when determining how their wishes may affect the decisions made.
- Physical and mental health of all individuals involved.
- Child’s adjustment to their home, school and community.
- Level of cooperation between the parents and their willingness to foster positive relationships between the children and both parents.
- Distance between the residences of the parents, the difficulty and cost of transportation and the daily schedules of the parents and child.
In most cases, Illinois courts are reluctant to grant sole custody unless there have been issues such as abuse or neglect that have put the child’s health or safety at risk. In general, both parents are assumed to be fit to parent the child, and each parent is entitled to have reasonable parenting time with their child on an ongoing basis.
How Does Joint Custody Work in Illinois?
In Illinois, the allocation of parental responsibilities will usually involve parents sharing decision-making authority over major issues in their child’s life, such as education, healthcare and religious upbringing. Parents will also divide parenting time that will include any times that children will be living in either parent’s home or spending time in a parent’s care.
Parenting time may be allocated in a variety of ways. In many cases, children will live with one parent most of the time while spending certain days, weeknights or weekends with the other parent. However, there are some situations where parenting time may be divided equally between parents. The specific schedule will depend on the parents’ and child’s circumstances and needs.
Parents will need to create a parenting plan that details how all issues related to child custody will be handled. This legal agreement will be part of a couple’s divorce decree or a child custody order put in place by the Court. A parenting plan will address how parental responsibilities will be divided or shared, and the plan will include a schedule for parenting time. A parenting plan may also address a variety of other issues related to child custody, such as methods of transportation and rules for communication.
Parents will also have the obligation to provide child support that will ensure that their child’s ongoing needs will be met. The Illinois child support guidelines consider each parent’s income, and in some cases, the amount of parenting time each parent has will affect the amount of the parents’ obligations. Parents may also need to determine how to divide certain child-related expenses.
Contact an Inverness Child Custody Lawyer
If you are involved in a child custody dispute, contact an experienced Northwest Cook County child custody attorney. At the The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., we can help you understand your rights, and we will work with you to ensure that your parenting plan provides for your children’s best interests while protecting your parental rights. Call 847.873.6741 to schedule a free consultation.