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IL family lawyerIf you are getting divorced or you are an unmarried parent, you may have questions about how child custody, called the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois, is handled. You have probably seen phrases such as, “The court will determine a parenting time schedule that is in the child’s best interests.” You may have wondered what the phrase “best interests” actually means in this context.

Determining What is in a Child’s Best Interests

When a married couple with children gets divorced or an unmarried couple has a child together, they have the option of creating their own arrangement for parenting time and parental responsibilities. Parents who need help negotiating a parenting plan may benefit from the help of a qualified mediator. However, even with mediation, coming to an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities is not possible for some parents. In cases like this, the court will consider a number of factors to determine a parenting arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • Each parent’s wishes regarding custody
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to express these wishes
  • The relationship the child has with his or her parents, siblings, and any other individuals who may affect his or her best interests
  • Each parent’s ability to facilitate a good relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and neighborhood
  • Any domestic violence or abuse that has occurred and
  • Whether or not either of the parents is a sex offender

Unless there has been ongoing abuse as defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, Illinois courts typically assume that it is in the child’s best interests to have both of his or her parents highly involved in his or her life.

Contact an Aurora Child Custody Lawyer

When parents cannot agree on child custody issues, the court will decide for them. The parents’ wishes, the wishes of the child, any history of abuse, the health of the parents, and many other factors are considered by Illinois courts when making child custody determinations. If you are in a custody dispute, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help. Schedule a free consultation with a proficient Kane County family law attorney by calling us at 630-584-5550.

 

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Posted on in Family Law

Illinois family lawyerMany grandparents and parents are familiar with the term “grandparents’ rights,” but do not fully understand it as a concept. It does not mean that grandparents automatically have the right to spend time with their grandchildren or seek custody of them by the virtue of being grandparents. What it means is that under certain specific circumstances, grandparents have the right to petition the court for visitation with their grandchild. Grandparents’ rights vary from state to state, but they exist in some form in every state. They are an important part of family law, the legal area that governs family relationships.

Circumstances Under Which Grandparents can Sue for Visitation with a Child

In Illinois, grandparents may file petitions for visitation with their grandchildren if an “unreasonable denial of visitation” has occurred. This could be in conjunction with a child’s parents’ divorce, the issuance of a parenting plan, or because there is a reason why the parent through whom the grandparent would access the child cannot facilitate their relationship. This could be because the child’s parent is incarcerated, deceased, legally incompetent, or has been reported as missing to law enforcement. Typically, it is easier for grandparents to be granted visitation rights when one of the child’s parents is unavailable to maintain their relationship with the child.

When both parents are present in a child’s life, a grandparent may seek visitation when the parents are separated, divorced, or in the process of divorcing if at least one of the parents does not object to the grandparent having visitation. If both object, the grandparent’s request is denied.

In order to have court-ordered visitation with a grandparent, a child must be at least one year old.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_child-custody.jpgThe parenting agreement you sign at the time of your divorce might not serve your child well until he or she becomes an adult.

A parenting plan is divided into two components: parenting time and parental responsibilities. You can modify one or many items in your parenting plan by filing paperwork with the court to alter it. If you and your former spouse agree to the change, this is an easy process. If you do not agree on the proposed changes, you will have to demonstrate to the court that circumstances in your lives have changed and the proposed new plan is in your child’s best interest.

Your Child’s Needs Change as He or She Grows

When your child is in elementary school, remaining in the same school after your divorce could be in his or her best interest because this means one less disruption. By high school, attending a school that has greater academic resources might be a higher priority, which can mean changing districts. In this case, consider altering your parenting plan so your child attends the school that can serve him or her better.

Changes in a Parent’s Household Impact the Child

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Illinois custody lawyerThe short answer is this: it depends on the child and the circumstances he or she is facing. Typically, Illinois courts permit adolescents age 14 and over to weigh in on their parenting time schedule. When a young man or woman expresses a well-developed opinion about his or her parenting time, the court will often consider it alongside other factors to determine an appropriate parenting schedule for him or her. But a child’s opinion cannot be the only thing the court considers, and it is not required to consider the child’s opinion if there are other, more significant, factors present.

Yes, but the Court Can Overrule Your Child’s Choice

When the court develops a parenting time arrangement, it creates the arrangement that it determines to be in the child’s best interest. In most cases, it is in the child’s best interest to maintain a consistent relationship with each parent. One parent could be deemed to be better equipped to care for the child, and when this happens, that parent generally has a greater share of the child’s parenting time.

When the court considers a child’s opinion about his or her parenting schedule, it must determine whether the child’s opinion was logically developed or if he or she is being impulsive. The court must also determine if one parent manipulated the child into voicing such a request in order to receive a larger share of parenting time or “punish” the other parent.

Factors the Court Considers When Determining a Parenting Schedule

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois child custody attorneyThroughout the years and perhaps due to the change in family dynamics in our country, the family law regarding child custody and visitation schedules have undergone significant changes. No longer are we in the ages of the clear cut, laid out in a black-and-white model of care arrangements. Legislators realized that there is no one-size-fits-all model. Instead of joint custody or sole custody division, Illinois has the additional assignment of parental responsibility. Although transitions such as these are beneficial because they allow the courts to mold a solution suitable for each family, terms become increasingly blurred and challenging for someone unfamiliar with the area. It is not uncommon for questions to arise when determining the best outcome for each child.

The Best Interest of the Child

As always, Illinois focuses on the best interest of the child, occasionally even if that is against the guardian's preferences. A judge will take into consideration if someone is unwilling or has a lack of want to care for the child, as well as those who do prefer to look after the child, however other factors play into consideration. By Illinois law, 15 factors influence the determination of parental control, including:

  • The child’s wishes and needs,
  • The child’s adjustment to the home, school, and surrounding community,
  • The mental and physical health of all parties,
  • The relationship of the parents (i.e. contentious, cooperative, etc.)
  • The history each parent has in decision making for the child,
  • Parental wishes,
  • Potential restrictions on decision-making capabilities,
  • Abuse, and
  • Sex offender registrant status.

Parental Responsibilities

Regardless of which parent has physical custody of the child involved, there is a separate matter of who has the decision-making capabilities. There is no legal obligation stating that both parents have an equal right to choose the upbringing of the child. For instance, a judge may determine that the mother can make a decision regarding education whereas the father makes the decision about religion. The major areas in which a judge determines who controls the decision making include:

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