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How Is Child Custody Determined in Glencoe, Illinois?

April 25, 2024
How is child custody determined? Child custody usually gets decided in one of two ways. For example, the parents may be able to agree on a joint parenting plan without court involvement. If this is not possible, the parents can each submit their parenting plans. The court then goes through processes, such as a trial, to figure out custody based on the best interests of the child. Of course, more nuances go into how child custody is determined in Glencoe, Illinois. Call Silberman Law Group at (312) 593-0075 to consult a child custody lawyer on your custody issues.
Sad little girl is looking at camera while her parents are arguing in the background. how is child custody determined

Child Custody Laws in Illinois

Illinois now refers to custody as parental responsibilities. What used to be legal custody is called decision-making responsibility, while parenting time refers to physical custody and visitation. If you see these newer terms elsewhere, you’ll know what they mean.

In any case, the laws prioritize the best interests of the child. Parents may share joint custody, or one parent might have sole legal or physical custody.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements

There are two major types of child custody in Illinois. Legal custody, or decision-making responsibility, refers to parental authority in making decisions about the child’s life. It gives parents the ability to determine where their children go to school, what medical treatments they receive, if they go to church, what extracurriculars they participate in, and so on.

Parents may share in all decisions. Alternatively, a judge might give one parent the responsibility for some decisions, while the other parent gets to make other decisions. Custody laws in Illinois favor joint decision-making responsibility in all areas, but split authority can be more common when the parents have a hard time agreeing. It is also possible for one parent to have sole decision-making responsibility.

Physical custody, or parenting time, is about where the child lives. There are many possible parenting schedules. For example, parents may trade off weeks having the children, or they might switch every few days.

Parents, or the court, can also choose for the children to live with one parent during the week and some weekends and the other parent most weekends and most school breaks. Many plans and variations are possible for different situations.

The custodial parent is typically the one who has the child more than half of the time. When parents share the time 50/50, one parent may be listed as the custodial parent for reasons such as school enrollment.

When children are with their parents, whether a custodial or noncustodial parent, the parent has the authority to make routine child care decisions.

Factors Considered in Child Custody Determination

Factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent are major considerations in custody determination. Courts look at the emotional bond the parent and child share, how well they communicate, and how in sync they seem to be with each other. Reviewing these overall dynamics helps judges gauge the level of attachment and support. Other factors that go into custody determination include:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child: Can the parents take care of basics such as food, housing, health care and education? Can the parents offer stability and involvement in the child’s life?
  • The wishes of the child, if the child is able to express them: Judges give more weight to the child’s preferences if the child is older or more mature. The unique circumstances of each case can also account for how much a judge considers a child’s preferences.
  • The child’s comfort level at home and school and in the community: If a child feels secure at school or in the community, disrupting these arrangements may affect the child’s education and socialization.
  • Any history either parent has with substance abuse, domestic violence, or similar matters: Many issues can pose a risk to children’s physical, mental, or emotional health.
  • Each parent’s willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent: Courts recognize the importance of children having good relationships with both of their parents. It can hurt one parent’s case for custody if the parent tries to interfere with a good, healthy relationship.

Considered together, these factors, along with others, contribute to custody arrangements that serve the child’s best interests.

The Child Custody Process in Illinois

Several steps go into child custody determinations. First, one parent files a petition for custody, and the judge orders mediation.

It is often better to settle custody issues without a trial. Doing so is less stressful and sets the stage for the parents to have a better co-parenting relationship going forward. Mediation also offers the flexibility for the parents to customize unique solutions that fit their family’s needs.

Taking a custody case to trial can result in strain and emotional upheaval, with effects that linger for years. Pretrial processes can feel invasive and unnecessary. By contrast, mediation focuses on collaboration and empowerment.

Of course, mediation does not always succeed. This can be the case for many reasons. Common ones include a parent’s unwillingness to consider a mutual agreement, a power imbalance, one parent manipulating the other, constant communication challenges and misunderstandings, and unrealistic expectations.

If mediation fails, the court holds a hearing. The goal is to determine custody based on the best interests of the child. The hearing usually consists of witness testimony, documents such as medical reports, cross-examination, legal arguments, and analyses of the child’s best interests.

The judge then decides custody with, as always, the best interests of the child being the top priority. The judge may give more weight to one parent’s parenting plan, mix both parents’ ideas, or go in another direction.

Legal and physical custody in Glencoe may be joint or solo. If it seems the parents will have a hard time making decisions together, the judge may say that one parent has decision-making authority for certain matters, while the other parent handles other aspects. The judge establishes the parenting time schedule and may address other parental responsibilities and child support issues.

Often, parents are able to make child custody agreements on their own. If they are getting divorced, for example, but have not filed, custody could be one of the issues they agree on before filing. As long as the agreement seems fair and in the child’s best interests, a judge should approve it.

A child custody lawyer can be helpful for how child custody is determined. This is true whether parents try to discuss custody outside of court or go a more formal route. Child custody lawyers have the experience to come up with solutions that may not be immediately obvious to the parents.

Lawyers can also clarify the parents’ and children’s best interests and advocate on their behalf. In situations such as divorce, attorneys should be able to handle other issues such as property division and spousal support.

The specifics of each case affect how child custody is determined. For example, parents or the court may decide how the parents will communicate with each other and where the child lives during the week, weekend, school breaks, and other times. Depending on the particulars, a custody arrangement may need to cover pickup and dropoff times and sites, along with other nuances.

Child Custody Modifications in Glencoe, IL

If circumstances change a good deal since the custody order was issued, a parent can ask for custody modification.

When to Request Child Custody Modification

If one parent wants to move with the child, the parent can ask for modification in order for the relocation to occur. Changes in income, health, and lifestyle can impact custody issues, too. As children get older, their needs and preferences may evolve, as well. These preferences could change enough that the custody order needs modified.

One parent may ask for modification if concerns about the child’s environment arise. For example, if the other parent develops substance abuse issues that affect the child’s safety, that change could be enough for modification.

Judges do not necessarily have to decide modification issues, although they often do. The parents can negotiate changes between themselves, especially with third parties such as their child custody attorneys. After they have an agreement, the court can approve it.

It is not a good idea to informally modify a custody order (when the parents agree to changes between themselves and do not get court approval). This puts one, perhaps both, parents at risk of being in trouble or losing custody if the other parent decides to enforce the original order.

Get insight into your custody case today with a child custody lawyer. Contact us at Silberman Law Group today for help with family law, child custody, and divorce.

Family law attorney David Silberman is the founding attorney of Silberman Law Group, Family Law and Divorce Attorneys in Northbrook, Illinois. Mr. Silberman has a long track record of success providing his clients with reliable legal advice, protecting their best interests, and helping them obtain successful, sustainable outcomes.

Years of Experience: More than 15 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association
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Family law attorney David Silberman is the founding attorney of Silberman Law Group, Family Law and Divorce Attorneys in Northbrook, Illinois. Mr. Silberman has a long track record of success providing his clients with reliable legal advice, protecting their best interests, and helping them obtain successful, sustainable outcomes.

Years of Experience: More than 15 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association