Child Custody

What is child custody?

Child custody is the colloquial term for with whom (and on what schedule) a couple’s child(ren) reside. In Illinois, the law refers to child custody as “parenting time.” Parents may have custody concerns whether they have been married to their former partner or not. If at all possible, parents should work to reach an agreement on a co-parenting schedule for their child(ren). Parents can then work with a family law attorney or child custody lawyers to include this schedule and other agreements about holidays, extracurricular activities, college, and other concerns into a document called a Parental Allocation Judgment, which will be entered in court. This document will spell out the basic rules of co-parenting that both parties agree to abide by, and determine the residential schedule that is best for your family.

What types of child custody are there?

Most often, divorcing couples arrive at an agreement that provides for some type of shared, or joint, custody of the child(ren), in which the child(ren) reside part-time with one parent and part-time with the other. Most parents also agree that they will make important decisions for their child(ren) jointly. In some cases, the parties may agree, or the Court may determine, that it is in the best interests of the child(ren) that one parent is given sole custody and/or sole decision-making rights, while the other parent may be granted supervised or unsupervised parenting time.

How do I get custody of my child?

The law considers both parents to be worthy of time with their child(ren) unless there is a very strong reason why that is not true. Therefore, a court starts with the assumption that it is in the best interests of the child(ren) to have parenting time with both parents. If circumstances are such that you feel, and the Court agrees, that access to one parent should be restricted, the Court may order limited visitation for one parent, which may be supervised by a third party. Often, in contentious cases where there is intense disagreement about co-parenting, or there are concerns about one or both parents’ ability to parent based on past or ongoing behaviors, a Child Representative or Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) may be appointed. Professionals serving in these roles are trained to represent the best interests of the child(ren) in a case. A GAL or Child Representative will communicate with the parties and their respective counsel, the child(ren), and the Court to monitor the case and make recommendations about parenting time and decision making. If you need legal representation to modify or enforce your existing parenting agreement, schedule a consult with us today. 

The Long and Short of It

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