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Evanston Child Custody Lawyer

Marriages end, but parenting is forever.

Our Evanston child custody lawyers keep you informed & your kids protected.


North Shore Child Custody: Agreements & Advocacy

A women-led law firm where we understand that you do everything for your kids.

Parents don’t think about parenting time when their kids come into their lives. But custody is most parents’ number one concern when things end.

Our North Shore custody lawyers take a tactical approach to ensure that your kids have the best of both worlds and you have the opportunity to co-parent. At O. Long Law, we help Chicagoland parents pursue custody arrangements that make sense, and everything is done with your child’s best interests in mind.

O. Long Law Helps

  • Secure the Best Child Custody Solution
  • Protect You & Your Children from Abuse or Violence
  • Establish & Enforce Child Custody Orders
  • Minimize the Negative Impact of Divorce on Your Child’s Life
  • Address Future Custody Issues or Modifications

Case Results

Holiday Custody Dispute Resolved Quickly

After more than a month of being denied visitation, our attorneys were retained and secured the requested parenting time for our client in time for Christmas.

Negotiated Custody Plan for Special Needs Child

We facilitated a mutually agreed upon parenting agreement for an LGBT couple that aligned with the child’s special needs and the client's overall goals.

Preserved Parenting Time

Preserved status quo parenting time for parent after false allegations of alcohol and drug abuse.

Why Our Firm?

Leaving child custody up to the courts is risky, and parents are free to work things out themselves. But this often results in one-sided deals or needlessly restrictive parenting time schedules. That’s why you need an objective and practical lawyer looking out for you and your children as you decide custody, parenting time, and decision-making issues.

What Makes Us Different

  • Tough negotiators, so you get what you deserve.
  • A team approach to your custody issue.
  • Honest advice and clear communication about what to expect.
  • Aggressive advocates for the best possible custody plan.

This is how O. Long Law became the custody lawyers your kids deserve.

Meet Your Family's Team

Illinois Child Custody: Laws & What To Consider

The Long & Short of It…

Illinois custody laws were revised extensively in 2016-2018. Illinois courts do not automatically award custody to mothers or fathers. Instead, judges work toward solutions where both parents engage in their children’s upbringing, education, medical care, and other issues. However, if a parent has a history of domestic violence, child abuse, or addiction problems, the court can grant sole custody to the other parent.

Child Custody: Establishing Residency

If the child of the parents lives in Illinois, then Illinois courts have jurisdiction when parents cannot agree. Child custody becomes more complicated when one child lives out of state.

Out-of-State Custody

Illinois adheres to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This determines which state is the child’s “home state” for legal matters and eliminates more than one state ruling on the same child custody case.

Illinois may issue child custody orders when the child:

  • Has lived in Illinois for the last six months (or since birth for infants younger than six months)
  • The child either lives in Illinois or has lived here within the past six months, and one parent still lives in the state
  • Does not have a home state, and either (1) the child and at least one parent has connections with Illinois, or (2) the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships have ties to Illinois.

Decision-Making and Parenting Time

The two most important aspects of parenting, and what the law used to call “custody,” is now called “parenting time” and “decision-making.”

  • Parenting time means the time the children spend with each parent, especially the number of overnights.
  • Parental decision-making refers to the authority to decide your children’s medical treatment, religion, education, and other significant matters.

What About Shared Parenting Time and Joint Decision-Making?

Most often, divorcing couples or separating parents arrive at an agreement that provides what used to be called a shared child custody arrangement, where the child resides with each parent at least some of the time, and the parents also agree to make crucial decisions together.

Determining a Child’s Best Interests

It is always better to resolve co-parenting concerns through cooperation and negotiation. But if you cannot agree, issues will be left up to a family court judge. Usually, in Chicagoland, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem, an attorney who is supposed to determine the child’s best interests and advise the court.

Courts consider the following when making a custody determination:

  • Each parent’s wishes regarding parenting time and decision-making.
  • Each parent’s history of caretaking responsibilities for the child over the past two years.
  • The parents’ conduct in caring for the child.
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a suitable living situation.
  • The mental health of all parties.
  • The child’s wishes, age, and ability to decide where they want to live.
  • Stability and continuity.
  • Whether there is a history of physical violence, the threat of violence, or domestic abuse.

Equally important, the court prioritizes communication and cooperation between parents: both parents must be s willing to facilitate and encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent.

Parental Fitness & Misconduct

The court may also consider whether either parent’s behavior impacts their fitness as a parent. Parents diagnosed with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, or those with a criminal record or history of abuse against former partners or family members may face challenges or have restrictions on parenting time.


How To Get Custody of Your Child

The law considers both parents worthy of parenting time unless there is a strong reason to restrict or deny it.

Co-Parenting Plans

Parents should work to reach a co-parenting agreement. Parents can work with a child custody lawyer to create a parenting schedule and address how to divide holidays, extracurricular activities, college, and other concerns. All of this will be included in a Parental Allocation Judgment, a document filed with the court that spells out the basic rules of co-parenting that both parties agree to abide by.

Disputes & Limiting Parenting Time

Co-parenting with a negotiated agreement is usually best. But, disagreements are bound to arise. When agreements are breached or negotiations break down, parents can enforce their Parental Allocation Judgment or move to modify it.

Guardian Ad Litem

In contentious cases where there is ongoing disagreement about co-parenting or concerns about one or both parents’ ability to parent, a Child Representative or Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) may be appointed. These professionals are trained to represent the child’s interests. A GAL or Child Representative will communicate with the parents, attorneys, children, and the court to monitor the case and make recommendations.

Child Custody FAQs

You deserve the facts about child custody.

Can I Modify or Change a Child Custody Order?

Under Illinois law, you can ask the court to modify a child custody order, called a Parental Allocation Judgment. There are rules about the circumstances for seeking modification, so it's very important to seek advice about what is required.

Can a Parent Move Out of State?

It's very difficult for either parent to relocate outside Illinois if the other party disagrees. To get a court order allowing the relocation, the parent seeking the move must show that relocation is in the child's best interest.

What if My Ex Won't Agree to My Custody Request?

Resolving child custody issues without a court order depends on the willingness of both parents. At O. Long Law, we work to create solutions that respect your priorities and protect the well-being of their children. We can assist you as you work with mediators and counselors to help you reach an amicable agreement. But, we also know how courts approach contentious custody issues and are fully capable of arguing on your behalf.

My Ex Won't Follow the Parenting Plan. Now What?

If your ex denies you parenting time or willfully fails to comply with your court-ordered parenting plan, you have a variety of options. There are several options under the law that can assist you in responding to parenting time abuse. The facts of your case should be assessed by an attorney who can explain what to expect.

Where Do You Practice & How Do I Reach You?

We handle child custody issues in Cook, Lake, Will, and DuPage counties. We are based in Evanston, on Chicago's North Shore, which includes the communities of Northbrook, Deerfield, Glenview, Northfield, Glencoe, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Wilmette, and Winnetka.

We'll schedule a quick 30-minute call to set up a consultation. One of our lawyers will review your situation, go over what's important to you, and offer some advice.

Our hours are Monday through Friday from 9 am until 5 pm, and currently, we're holding meetings via telephone or Zoom.