Close this search box.

Child Custody Lawyer in Northbrook, IL

Parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities are often the most difficult and emotionally-charged aspects of divorce and family law cases. Without an experienced child custody lawyer on your side, your child’s best interests, your rights as a parent, and your relationship could be at stake.

With over 15 years of experience navigating the legal landscape of family law, David Silberman, founder of Silberman Law Group, is the attorney that Northbrook, IL trusts to guide them on the path to a healthy and sustainable parenting arrangement. Whether you need legal representation in the courtroom for a contentious custody battle, or a representative to help guide you through mediation, David Silberman offers sound advice and compassionate legal representation for all matters of family law.

Let Silberman Law Group guide you through the legal process, so you can focus on the next stage of your life. Call 312.593.0075.

What Are Illinois Parenting Time Guidelines?

Illinois has guidelines in place for divorcing parents who are working to build a fair and healthy child custody arrangement. The courts implore that parents keep the children’s best interests in mind when determining visitation schedules and travel arrangements. When drafting a custody agreement, the law considers two primary elements: parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Parenting time, formerly referred to as physical custody, refers to where the children reside, when, and for what duration. Parental responsibility, formerly called legal custody, refers to each parent’s allocated governance over the child’s major life decisions.

If parents can not agree on a custody arrangement, the courts will make a determination on their behalf. When this happens, the courts consider the child’s best interests, whether the continuity of the parent-child relationship is in the child’s best interests, the present needs of the child and how they may grow and change, and the hardship a child may face due to relocation. Typically, Illinois courts prioritize joint custody arrangements, although parental rights may be revoked if a parent is deemed unfit or creates unsafe conditions for the child.

child hugging mother during parenting time
Northbrook child custody lawyer David Silberman can help you support your child’s best interests.
Call 312.593.0075. today.

How Is Child Custody Determined?

Illinois courts allow parents to create a custody agreement without the influence of a judge. However, if parents draft an agreement that is glaringly unfair to one party, fails to support the children’s best interests, or is otherwise problematic, the courts will step in and a judge will make a determination on the parties’ behalf.

When making a determination regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities, parents or judges should consider each parent’s capacity to care for the child, the child’s needs now and in the future, existing familial relationships, and potential disruptions to the child’s daily life. When these elements are factored in, a custody arrangement is created in the child’s best interests.

Parental Capacity to Care for a Child

Each party’s capacity to provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child will be considered when making a custody decision. A parent’s mental and physical health, the history of abuse or neglect, the presence of substance abuse, the relationship between the parent and child, and a parent’s mental capacity may also be considered when allocating parenting time and responsibility.

The Needs of the Child

The needs of the child are another essential element considered when making a custody determination. Whether the child has disabilities or other special needs that require special care, the child’s mental and physical health, and other life-impacting circumstances will be analyzed to ensure that each party has the capacity to meet the child’s needs and that disruptions are minimized.

Existing Familial Relationships

The relationship between the child and each parent, as well as the relationship with other children in each household, stepparents, and other family members will play a role in a child custody determination.

Disruptions to the Child’s Daily Life

A custody order will be screened for disruptions to the child’s development and daily life. If one parent must relocate to a location that would cause a child to uproot his or her life completely, the courts may award primary custody to the other parent to preserve the child’s existing routine and minimize upheaval.

Who Has Custody of a Child if the Parents Were Not Married?

In Illinois, if the parents of a child are not married, the mother is typically considered the legal and custodial parent by default. She has legal custody (decision-making authority) and physical custody (residential responsibility) of the child, unless a court order states otherwise.

However, unwed fathers have legal rights in Illinois. They can seek legal recognition and parenting time (visitation) through the legal system. Establishing paternity is a crucial step for unwed fathers who wish to assert their parental rights.

How Paternity Can Be Established in Illinois

Both parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form at the hospital when the child is born or at a later time. This form legally recognizes the father as the child’s parent.

If there is a dispute or disagreement about paternity, either parent can petition the court to establish paternity. The court may order DNA testing to confirm the biological relationship.

Once paternity is established, the father can seek legal custody and visitation rights through the court. The court will determine custody and visitation arrangements based on the best interests of the child.

It’s advisable for unwed parents to consult with experienced child custody lawyers to navigate the legal process, establish paternity, and address custody and visitation matters. Legal guidance ensures that both parents’ rights and responsibilities are protected, and that the child’s well-being remains a top priority.

child hugging father
Image 216

The Illinois Child Custody Determination Process

The process for determining child custody in Illinois can be extensive if the parties fail to agree on terms. If a divorce is contentious, it can prolong custody negotiations as well. However, if mediation is successful and both parties maintain an agreeable disposition, the drafting of a custody order can be a succinct process. The retention of a child custody lawyer can help to ensure that both parties’ rights are upheld, the child’s best interests are protected, and the divorce and custody process stays on track.

Regardless of the duration of child custody negotiations, the proceedings leading up to a finalized order typically follow the same process.

Parents File for Custody or Divorce

Child custody proceedings are initiated when a parent officially files for custody. This can occur during or after divorce, when substantial life changes occur, or when a child is born to parents who are not in a relationship. A parent files for custody by filing a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities and serving the other party.

Parenting Classes and Mediation

Once the petition is filed and proceedings are initiated, the parties are required to attend parenting education classes. These classes help facilitate amicable coparenting and child-focused separation. Then, the parties may enter mediation to resolve interpersonal disputes and iron out custody-related issues. During this time, parents can also work to draft a preliminary parenting plan.

Temporary Custody Orders

While a case is open, temporary custody orders are often put into place to address child support, visitation, and custody arrangements until a final order is drafted.

Involvement of a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)

In some cases, expert involvement may be necessary to determine what arrangement supports the child’s best interests. When this happens, a custody evaluator or Guardian Ad Litem may be appointed. These experts interview the children, the parents, and take in the facts of a custody case to determine the healthiest outcome for the involved parties. Then, the GAL acts as an advocate for the child if a trial ensues.

Negotiation and Resolution

Child custody negotiations often resolve without the need for a court-mandated decision. Typically, this resolution is based on an agreed-upon parenting plan. Once drafted, this plan is presented to a judge for approval. In some cases, parents can not agree on a plan, or draft a plan that is unfair to one party. When this occurs, judges may make modifications or mandate a different plan entirely. If negotiations become contentious, a case may need to proceed to trial.

How Is Child Support Calculated in Illinois?

cartoon hand holding bag of money to reflect child support
How the income shares model works:

The income shares model starts child support calculations by determining the net income of both parents, and, subsequently, their combined net income. Then, the percent of the total income earned by each parent is calculated. Next, the combined net income is compared to the income shares chart to determine the value of the financial support obligation for the child. Finally, the income contribution percentage of the parent ordered to pay is multiplied by the total required financial support to yield his or her independent financial obligation. As a formula, the income shares model looks like this:


(payee’s income) + (payer’s income) = Combined Net Income


(payer’s income)/Combined Net Income = Percent of Contribution


Percent of Contribution * Total Cost of Financial Support = Child Support Obligation

Child support is not ordered to both parents. Instead, the parent with the minority share of parenting time will be ordered to pay financial support to the custodial parent. In cases involving 50/50 custody, the higher earning parent is likely to be ordered to pay child support.

Northbrook Trusts David Silberman for Family Law Matters

David Silberman handles a variety of family law cases. Northbrook trusts Silberman Law Group to guide them through:

FAQs About Child Custody and Visitation in Illinois

1. Can I change a child custody order?

Child custody orders can be modified when extenuating circumstances apply or significant life changes occur. This may apply to emergency situations, such as endangerment of the child or abuse allegations. Modification may also be necessary in cases where a parent becomes unfit or no longer has the capacity to provide for the child.

2. At what age can a child choose who to live with in Illinois?

There is no set age of majority for a child to vocalize his or her preference regarding parenting time allocations in Illinois. However, as a child ages, his or her wishes carry more weight when making custody decisions.

3. Can I move out of state if I have a joint custody arrangement?

Custodial parents have the right to relocate out of state with an existing custody order in place. However, they are required to inform the noncustodial parent of the relocation in writing 60 days prior to moving. The notice should include the intended date of the move, the duration of the relocation, and the new address.

What Our Clients Are Saying

Grupo 2965