If you find yourself in a court battle to determine whether or not your child should live with you after a separation, Granholm & Gynac stands ready to help. We understand that, for parents, nothing is more important to them than their children. Everyone wants to be a part of their children’s lives, to provide them with love and guidance, and to participate in their upbringing.
Understanding Child Custody
In Illinois, what used to be called “custody” and “visitation” is now known as “allocation of parenting responsibilities” and “allocation of parenting time.” The basic premise is still the same: parents must decide who will have authority to make major decisions for their children, such as in the areas of healthcare, education, extra-curricular activities, and religious upbringing. The courts also always require one parent to be designated as the parent with majority parenting time, as well as the parent whose address is used for school registration purposes.
In an ideal scenario, parties are able to negotiate entry of an Allocation Judgment and Parenting Plan, which is a document that defines each parent’s rights and responsibilities pertaining to their children. Well-drafted parenting plans establish a schedule for when each parent will have custody of their children and also addresses rotating holidays and managing vacation times.
Experienced attorneys can help clients implement parenting plans to address the unique needs of each family. Some parents work night shifts, swing shifts, or unusual schedules, where traditional parenting time schedules may not work. Some children are involved in travel sports or other demanding activities that require flexibility when it comes to accommodating games and practices. And sometimes, parties may have special concerns that need to be addressed, such as if a parent struggles with addiction or other issues that need to be managed to keep children safe and healthy. Keeping children safe may even require that one parent’s time be “supervised” or otherwise appropriately restricted.
When Custody Goes to Court
When parties are unable to mutually agree on a parenting plan, then it is up to a judge to decide what happens. In Illinois, the family court system is guided by the “best interests of the child” principle when determining which parent should be awarded the majority parenting time, as well as to resolve any other child-related conflicts that arise.
Among other factors, in a contested child custody case the court considers:
- The needs of the child.
- The wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making.
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community.
- The ability of parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making.
- The level of each parent’s participation in past decision making and parenting duties.
- Prior agreements or courses of conduct between the parents with respect to the child.
- Any other factor that the court determines relevant, so that the child or children involved are kept safe, healthy, and provided the best possible environment for them to grow up in.
Navigating the family court system when it comes to securing your father’s rights or mother’s rights can be challenging. With so much uncertainty, you need attorneys that have experience in how Illinois family courts operate, and who are prepared to fight for you and your children.