In many divorce and family law cases, child custody is one of the most important issues to address. In Illinois, the courts seek to protect the best interests of the child when making decisions about parental responsibilities and parenting time. The court will look at a variety of factors to determine the best ways to provide for children’s needs going forward. Parents who are seeking to protect their parental rights and resolve child custody disputes can work with an attorney to make sure these issues will be addressed correctly.
Types of Child Custody
Child custody issues generally fall into two categories:
- Legal custody: This is known as the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois, and it refers to a parent’s right and responsibility to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing. Decision-making responsibilities may address issues such as education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities, and they may be shared between parents or granted primarily to one parent.
- Physical custody: This is often known as visitation, but it is referred to as parenting time in Illinois law. This form of custody will address where the child will live on a day-to-day basis. In many cases, a child will live with one parent most of the time while still spending regular time with the other parent. In other situations, parenting time may be divided equally, or other arrangements may be put in place.
In most cases, the court will award joint legal and physical custody, as long as this would be in the best interests of the child. Sole custody may be granted in some cases. However, even if one parent will have sole legal custody, the other parent will usually have the right to regular, reasonable parenting time.
Factors Considered by Courts in Child Custody Cases
The courts look at several factors to determine how to resolve child custody issues. When determining what would be in the best interests of the child, a family court Judge may consider:
- The child’s wishes: If a child is at an appropriate age (typically over 12 years old), a Judge may consider the preferences the child has voiced about where they want to live or how other issues will be addressed.
- The parents’ wishes: Each parent’s desires for how child custody issues should be handled may be considered, including their reasons for why they believe that their desired outcome will provide for their child’s best interests.
- Parenting abilities: A Judge will look at each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs. Issues such as stability, mental health, financial resources, and willingness to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent may be considered.
- The child’s relationship with each parent: A Judge may evaluate the quality of the child’s bond with both parents. Courts usually encourage ongoing contact between children and both parents unless this would have a negative effect on the child’s well-being.
- Past involvement in parenting: A Judge may assess each parent’s level of involvement in childcare activities in the past, including feeding and grooming children, assisting with homework and other educational needs, providing instruction and discipline, and attending school functions or medical appointments. The Judge may look at whether one parent has acted as the primary caregiver or whether childcare has been shared equally.
- History of abuse or neglect: Illinois courts seek to protect children from harmful situations. Evidence of domestic violence, neglect, substance abuse, or other issues that could affect children’s safety and well-being can impact child custody decisions.
When evaluating these issues and determining what would be in the best interests of the child, the court may also seek input from professionals such as psychologists or social workers who can provide opinions on matters affecting child welfare. In some cases, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to serve as a legal advocate for the child and provide recommendations on how issues related to child custody should be addressed.
Contact Our Barrington Child Custody Lawyer
When it comes to child custody in Illinois, the court’s primary concern is always the best interests of the child. At [[title]], our Rolling Meadows child custody attorney can help you demonstrate that you can provide for your child’s best interests, and we will fight to protect your parental rights at all times. If you need help resolving child custody issues during your divorce, contact us at [[phone]] for a free consultation.