Going through a divorce is difficult enough, but when child custody issues arise, the situation becomes much more stressful and complex. It is always best if parents can work together to find child custody arrangements that suit both parties and the best interests of the child. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and conflicts over child custody can lead to a contentious court battle that is damaging to all parties, especially children who are caught in the middle.
If you are going through a divorce and your ex is wreaking havoc with custody arrangements, our Woodridge child custody lawyers can help. Illinois child custody laws are complicated, and the decisions you make now can affect your children’s lives forever. Skilled legal assistance can protect your rights and interests, as well as the future and well-being of your children.
The Woodridge child custody attorneys at Wolfe & Stec Ltd. have years of valuable experience in helping families resolve custody issues and move on with their lives. Our skilled and compassionate attorneys know the courts and the system and will advocate for you and your children, creating a clear path to resolution. We know how to cut through arguments and confusion and petition the court for a custody agreement that makes sense for all involved.
Your children are too important for you to go it alone. Call Wolfe & Stec at (630) 305-0222 to get started working on a brighter future for your family today.
When choosing a child custody attorney, it is important for you to find one you feel comfortable with and who also has the in-depth knowledge of Illinois laws and the court experience you need. Here are some reasons why we believe you should choose Wolfe & Stec Ltd.:
At Wolfe & Stec, we are ready to examine your individual situation to determine the best way to help.
Our Woodridge child custody attorneys at Wolfe & Stec Ltd. understand how difficult it is for a family to be splintered by custody issues and will get to work immediately on your behalf. When you have us on your side, we will:
Delaying can only allow more complications to arise, so call our child custody attorneys today.
The ideal arrangement for child custody varies greatly based on the individual family situation, but it should always first consider the best interests of the child. It is always best if parents can come to an agreement on their own as to how parenting time will be allocated based on considerations such as the distance between the two homes, the child’s school, and extracurricular activity schedules, both parents’ work schedules, and help available from grandparents or other relatives. If parents cannot agree, the courts will make this determination according to the “best interests of the child” standard by considering the following factors:
An initial conversation with one of our Woodridge custody lawyers can help explain each of these issues in greater detail.
Illinois law generally recognizes that while normally the best interests of the child are fostered by having a healthy and close relationship with both parents, children’s needs change as they mature. The courts try to make sure the child has support and quality time with both parents, provided that the environment is safe.
In a divorce situation, children are best off with parenting time schedules that allow them to have their lives disrupted as little as possible, so they can continue with their friendships, school schedules, and activities. Plans for parenting time should identify and let children know how and with which parent they will spend vacations, birthdays, and holidays; what their transportation arrangements will be; when supervision is required; and other considerations that affect both parent and child.
Factors to be considered in visitation schedules may include the child’s age, gender, maturity level, intelligence, ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, and whether a child has any preference or hostility toward a parent and, if so, why. It is recognized that when a child reaches their teens, they need a schedule that fits with their social life and activities.
In most situations, additional family members can have visitation with the child during the period when the parent related to that family member has parenting time. If their relationship with the other spouse is good, that spouse may agree to visitation during their parenting time period as well.
In complicated situations, your child custody lawyer can petition for visitation rights for a grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling of a minor child.
In determining whether to grant visitation, the court may consider factors including whether the child resided in the home of the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling for at least six consecutive months and whether the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling was the primary caregiver for the child for at least six consecutive months.
If these are issues you face, an experienced DuPage County child custody lawyer can help you seek a favorable outcome.
If you have legitimate concerns about your children’s safety when they are with the other parent, there are ways your child custody lawyer can help restrict his or her parenting time.
Serious endangerment has been found where there is a history of driving while intoxicated, drug or alcohol use, physical or sexual abuse, parental alienation, or a realistic threat that the non-custodial parent may abscond with the child. If your child custody lawyer proves this at a hearing, then the court will enter an order as necessary to protect the child.
A petition to the courts requesting restrictions on parenting time is often done on an emergency basis if a child is endangered. If this order is only temporary, your Woodridge child custody lawyer in DuPage County can ask the judge to order the restricted parent to complete certain requirements, such as taking parenting or anger-management classes, therapy sessions, or drug or alcohol abuse treatment. Parenting time can be ordered to be supervised by a neutral family member, at a facility, or with a professional supervisor.
On January 1, 2016, Illinois became a trendsetter by changing child custody laws and terminology for the first time in 37 years. The main purpose of the changes is to recognize and support the rights of children and parents to have a healthy and safe relationship with each other and to ensure predictable decision-making for the children’s care.
The words “custody” and “visitation” have fundamentally been banished. Instead, the law now speaks in terms of “parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities” to consider the “best interests of the child.”
The compassionate and experienced Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec understand the stresses of divorce and recognize that children’s well-being is paramount. We will work with you to examine your individual situation and help produce solutions that are best for you.
Given that the law is ever-evolving and changes over time, a child custody lawyer is an essential asset, because he or she can explain these changes to you so that you are always up-to-date on the laws that will affect your child’s custody going forward. It is too much for a busy parent to stay abreast of changes to the law, especially given that some custody arrangements last for 10 to 15 years depending on the age of the child when a marriage breaks down. Below is some vital information about changes in custody law:
Old Law: Previously, custody law in Illinois generally depended on whether parents were granted joint custody or sole custody. If parents had a joint custody agreement, both would typically share in making decisions about the major areas of the child’s life. With a sole custody arrangement, one parent would have the final decision-making authority over these matters.
Major areas of a child’s life are considered to be:
New Child Custody Law: Instead of granting “custody,” the courts now refer to the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” As before, one parent may still have most of the decision-making responsibilities, or these responsibilities may be split between the parents. The difference is that the court now will determine which parent should be responsible for each area of the child’s life. For example, a judge may decide that one parent will be responsible for decisions on education and extracurricular activities and the other will be responsible for decisions on healthcare. Or, both parents may be responsible for the decisions in any or all areas.
To help the judge decide, the parents’ child custody lawyers, either together or individually, now file a parenting plan. This plan sets out how major decisions will be made regarding which school the child attends, what doctor they see, when they will spend time with each parent, and other vital areas.
If parents cannot agree, they will be required to mediate their differences in a process where a trained professional helps the parents decide what is best for the child. Rather than getting anxious about this process, see it as an opportunity to explore solutions that enable your child to have access to fun experiences and the protection that will give them a happy life.
It is often tempting to think of this process as an adversarial encounter with an ex, but our skilled Woodridge child custody lawyers can help you reframe the encounter as a positive opportunity for you and your child.
Your child custody attorney can guide you through this process. Parents typically split the cost of mediation unless they have a documented inability to pay. The court may then appoint a mediator free of charge. If parents are still unable to agree after mediation, the court will hold a hearing and decide upon a parenting plan. Parenting plans also identify how children will spend birthdays and other holidays, transportation arrangements, when supervision is required, and other considerations.
Our experienced Woodridge custody attorneys can explain these elements to you in greater detail.
Old Law: In the past, “visitation time” was the term that referred to the schedule for when each parent will have the child with them. One parent was often granted “residential custody” or “primary physical possession” of the child, and the other parent would then be the “non-custodial” parent and would be granted a reasonable “visitation schedule,” often alternating weekends, some time on one day during the week, and alternating holidays.
New Law: “Parenting time” is the new term for visitation. The children may spend most of their time with one parent, or they may split their time between both, but now neither parent is labeled primary or made to feel like the secondary parent. Also, the new law provides that a parent who has not been granted significant decision-making activities will be entitled to a reasonable parenting time schedule with the child. Decision-making rights and parenting time rights are no longer tied together.
The term “visitation” may still be used in situations such as when dealing with third parties, as with “grandparent visitation.”
When dealing with sensitive child custody situations, you are bound to have questions and concerns. These are best addressed at your free consultation, but to get started, here are some answers to questions our child custody lawyers are often asked:
Can children choose which parent to live with?
The children’s wishes may be considered, but children cannot choose which parent to live with. Instead, Illinois family courts determine the child’s “best interests” by taking into account relevant factors. Once a child turns 14, their opinion will be taken more seriously by the court, but it is not the sole determination.
Who has the right to child custody in Illinois?
Illinois law considers two aspects of child custody: legal custody (for making major decisions) and residential custody (where the child lives or spends the majority of their time). Married parents have joint residential and legal custody of a child born of the marriage while they are married.
Who has custody when parents are not married?
With unmarried parents, the mother has sole legal and residential custody of the child until a finding of paternity is made and the father petitions the court for some form of custody.
What should parenting plans cover?
Parenting plans should cover how parents will handle as many situations as possible when dealing with children, including:
What if the child’s safety is at stake?
In situations such as where one parent is abusive, has habitual substance abuse problems, is mentally ill, or abandons or fails to take proper care of their kids, that parent may be deemed unfit, and their custody may be terminated involuntarily or they may be given extremely limited parental rights, such as supervised visitation. If a parent continually puts their children in harm’s way, our child custody attorneys may be able to show grounds to alter their parental responsibilities.
When you have our Woodridge custody lawyers working for you, we will be there for you to answer questions all through the legal process.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has the goal of not diminishing the role of the parent who has less parenting time and allowing that parent to still have an equal part in making decisions. The overall goal is to ensure that children benefit from time spent with both responsible parents. No one is advocating for spending time with an irresponsible parent. In setting up the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities, the courts will consider factors such as:
Illinois child custody laws stipulate that children 14 and older may choose which parent to live with, but the judge may overrule this decision if it is determined that it is not in the child’s best interests. So, determining a teenage child’s living arrangement is a balance between involving the child in the decision-making and including the wisdom and experience of the judge.
When it comes to the custody of a beloved child, there are so many factors involved and so many interested parties who have ideas about what is best for the child that feelings tend to run high. Hiring a skilled and experienced child custody lawyer can help you sort through all of the issues and ensure the best remedy for the child.
At Wolfe & Stec, our DuPage County custody lawyers are on your side. We will listen to your concerns and goals and address your individual child custody needs to come up with the best solution possible. We will be there to guide you through the entire divorce and custody process and to take the burden off you by handling all legal hurdles, filings, court appearances, negotiations, and requirements under the Illinois Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (750 ILCS 36/) so you can concentrate on your family and rebuilding your lives.
The best way to sort through all the issues and ensure the best remedy for the child is to get help now.