Rockford Child Custody Lawyer & Parenting Time Attorney

Illinois Courts take their responsibilities to determine the best interests of children of divorcing parents very seriously. Few decisions are harder for Judges as they appreciate the impact their orders will have on the lives of the children.

From a practical standpoint, the Court will seek to determine:

  • which parent has been the children’s past primary caretaker,
  • how the children’s lives post-divorce can be given stability,
  • how to best protect the children from emotional and physical abuse,
  • what is each parent’s capacity to lovingly nurture the children in a structured environment, and
  • whether the custodial parent will strive to maintain the children’s relationship with the non-custodial parent.

If you need assistance developing a new child custody agreement or pursuing or defending a child custody modification, it is critical to have a tenacious Illinois child custody attorney by your side who can strongly advocate for you and your child’s best interests.

As a Rockford custody lawyer and parenting time attorney with years of experience, I zealously advocate on behalf of clients in seeking the best custody outcome possible. Call 815-904-6246 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your legal rights and how my firm may be able to help.

What Are the Different Types of Child Custody in Illinois?

From sole custody, joint custody, and legal custody to physical custody and split custody, there are numerous terms used to define child custody. In 2016, however, the Illinois legislature struck the word “custody” from the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act,[1] opting instead for the concepts of parenting time and parenting responsibilities.

What is Illinois Parenting Time?

Parenting time refers to the schedule of each parent’s time with a child (or children). The schedule can be agreed upon by both parties and approved by an Illinois family court judge. Alternatively, if the parties can’t agree on a schedule, a judge will assign a parenting-time arrangement based on the best interests of the child.[2]

What Are Parenting Responsibilities?

Akin to the term “legal custody,” parenting responsibilities refer to both parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities regarding a child.[3] As a Rockford parenting responsibilities lawyer, I help clients in seeking their objectives in these matters.

In Illinois, the following are the primary types of parenting responsibility arrangements:

  • Joint Custody. The Illinois Divorce Act does not define “joint custody” other than to state that it is based upon a Joint Parenting Agreement (“JPA”). However, contrary to popular belief, joint custody does not mean that a child will spend half of the time with each parent, or that each party will have equal decision-making authority. Instead, joint custody refers to what a JPA defines it to mean.
  • Sole Parenting Responsibilities (also referred to as sole custody). Sole parenting responsibility means that one parent is given the sole authority to make all critical decisions regarding a child’s upbringing. The sole custodian will also be the physical custodian, with the other parent being granted parenting time based upon a visitation schedule.
  • Shared Parenting Responsibilities (also referred to as shared custody). Shared parenting responsibility is a form of joint custody where children essentially spend almost equal amounts of time with each parent, each parent lives in the same school district, and child support may not be required.

How is Child Custody Determined in Illinois?

In Illinois, courts are instructed to consider the factors included in what is known as the “Best Interest Test.”  These factors cover a wide variety of matters that can impact the stability of children following a divorce or separation.  In general, the courts are to decide custody matters in what is in the best interest of the children.

When making a determination regarding the allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities, a judge will consider all relevant information, including without limitation, the following factors:

  • Each parent’s wishes regarding parenting time;
  • The wishes of a child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences regarding parenting time;
  • The amount of caretaking provided by each parent in the twenty-four months preceding the filing of a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities or since the child’s birth (if the adolescent is under two years of age);
  • Prior caretaking agreements;
  • Interaction and relationships the child has established with each parent, siblings, grandparents, and other people who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  • The child’s ability to adjust to his or her home, school, and community;
  • All parties’ mental and physical health;
  • The child’s needs;
  • The distance between each parent’s residence, transportation costs and difficulties, parental schedules, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in an arrangement;
  • Whether restricted parenting time is needed;
  • Any physical violence or threat of physical violence toward the child or other member of the child’s household;
  • The willingness of each party to place the child’s needs first (above his or her own needs);
  • The occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the household;
  • The convicted sex offender status of anyone residing in the households;
  • The terms of a parent’s military family-care plan (if a parent is being deployed);
  • Any other factors that the court finds to be relevant.[4]

Due to the subjective nature of the Best Interests Test and the long-term consequences of Illinois child custody cases, it is critical for parents to consult with an experienced Rockford child custody lawyer who can emphasize the positive aspects of a parent-child relationship and zealously advocate for the desired custody arrangement.

For years I have assisted clients in Rockford and the surrounding communities with child custody matters, from those involving cooperative parties to highly contentious disputes. Regardless of the level of cooperation of the other party, I and my firm can reduce your stress by taking on the full responsibility for understanding what parenting arrangement is in the best interests of a child and developing a comprehensive plan for the custody of your children.

Do Illinois Courts Favor Mothers Over Fathers in Custody Cases?

No, Illinois courts do not favor mothers over fathers in child custody and parenting time decisions.

Instead, there is an initial presumption for joint parenting responsibilities (also referred to as joint legal custody); however, joint custody does not imply that a child will live with each party for an equal amount of time. More typically, one parent is indicated as a child’s “Primary Residential Custodian,” with the other non-residential custodial parent typically paying child support.

How Can an Experienced Rockford Child Custody Lawyer Help My Case?

We know how stressful it is to have to fight for custody of your children.  As an experienced child custody attorney, I can help. I will listen to you, work with Child Custody Specialists, and properly present the Court with the information needed to make a good decision about the custody of children in a straightforward, common-sense manner, which includes showing how the Court’s order will impact your children’s daily lives.

Let me be your voice and advocate in court. In most instances, child custody matters are resolved in a mutually agreeable manner between the parents through the help and work of their lawyers.  This is the outcome we typically work to achieve, although getting to an acceptable outcome can be a very tedious process. I take on this burden for clients.  As a result, you won’t need to feel that you must make you case yourself.

I Offer a Free 30 Minute Consultation, and a Paid 90 Minute Consultation

I invite you to call my office today at 815-904-6246 to schedule a consultation to learn more about how I can seek a desirable custody arrangement for you.

[1] 750 ILCS 5/1-802.

[2] 750 ILCS 5/602.7.

[3] 750 ILCS 5/600.

[4] 750 ILCS 5/602.7.

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