Child Custody: Get Your Questions Answered
Not knowing what will happen to your children or how often you will see them is extremely unsettling. If you are facing a child custody dispute, you probably have many questions on your mind.
The following are frequently asked questions and answers regarding child custody in Illinois:
- What factors are considered when awarding child custody (now referred to in the law as “allocation of parental responsibilities”)? To make a custody determination, the court must decide what would be in the child’s best interests. The court will review several factors designed to show what is in the child’s best interests. These factors include the relationships the child has with parents and siblings, the child’s adjustment to his or her home and community, the willingness of each parent to foster a close relationship between the child and the other parent, the mental and physical health of all parties, and whether either parent has engaged in physical violence or domestic violence.
- Do children have a say in custody arrangements? Yes, but not the final word. The court has discretion to consider the wishes of children who are deemed mature enough to have well-reasoned preferences.
- What types of custody arrangements are possible? Legal and physical custody must be established. Legal custody is the authority to make decisions regarding raising the child, such as schooling, religion and more. Physical custody is residential custody. The court can award sole or joint (shared) physical custody.
- Do Illinois courts favor sole or joint custody? Absent domestic violence, Illinois courts presume that children benefit from maximum parental involvement by both parents. However, the courts do not presume that joint custody, specifically, is always in a child’s best interests.
- Are mothers more likely than fathers to receive custody? No. The law gives parents equal rights to physical and legal custody of their children.
- Are siblings always kept together in custody arrangements? In general, courts presume it is in the best interests of siblings to be kept together. In some situations, however, it can be successfully argued that it is in a child’s best interests to be separated from a sibling.
- Will a parent’s new spouse or live-in companion have an effect on the child custody decision? If this person presents a concern regarding the stability or safety of the child’s environment, that person’s character and background could be called into question during custody proceedings.
- How do child custody arrangements affect child support orders? In Illinois, child support is calculated using a formula based on a child custody arrangement in which the noncustodial parent only has visitation every other weekend and several weeks during the summer. If a parent has more visitation than this or shared custody, the court may deviate from the formula.
- Can a custodial parent move away with the child? A custodial parent needs a court order to move a child outside of Illinois. To get this order, the parent may have to prove that the move is in the child’s best interests. A custodial parent can move the child elsewhere within Illinois, as long as the parents do not have a written agreement against this. The noncustodial parent could pursue a child custody modification if he or she objects to the move.
- How can you modify your existing child custody order? You can modify your child custody order if both parents agree to the change, the current arrangement endangers the child or a significant change in circumstances, such as a move or a job loss, warrants it.
No two families are alike, and the law regarding child custody and parenting time has changed, so it is important to talk to an experienced attorney about your unique concerns. To discuss your case with a lawyer at Beermann Law Group, Ltd, in Libertyville, Illinois, contact us by email or call 847-680-7070 and schedule a free 30-minute initial consultation. We draw on over 40 years of legal experience to help parents design child custody arrangements that work for their families.