The outdated “Maternal Presumption” rule and the “Tender Years” doctrine, which automatically awarded custody of the children in a divorce to the mother, have fallen out of favor. As our society moves towards being gender neutral, and as fathers play more active roles in the care of their children, some mothers might be concerned that their rights are not given full consideration in child custody decisions. The Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group helps mothers work with their former spouse to resolve issues of custody, support and parenting time.
If both parents live in Illinois, then the family court will hear the custody case as a part of the divorce proceeding. In the case of an unmarried couple, the custody ruling is a part of the process of the father establishing his paternity. If the parents live in different states or one parent moves out of the state, which state’s court decides custody is determined by the rules outlined in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).
In Illinois, the basic custody arrangements are legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the authority to make decisions about such issues as where the child will attend school, medical and religious training decisions, and things of that nature. Physical custody refers to where the child lives.
Sole custody means that the parent with whom the child lives has physical and legal custody, and the non-custodial parent has visitation rights.
Joint custody is an equally shared co-parenting arrangement, but has no bearing on how much time each parent spends with the child. The child will typically live with one parent the majority of the time and have visitation with the other parent, but both parents have equal authority when it comes to making important decisions in the child’s life.
Illinois does not favor joint custody by default. Instead, the courts favor both parents being involved as much as possible, if it is in the best interests of the child.
The experienced attorneys at our Chicago family law firm can help you determine which custody arrangement is right for you and your children.
Children who have a strong desire about which parent they would prefer to live with may express their thoughts to the judge. The judge may weigh the child’s wishes along with a whole host of other criteria in making their ruling. The best interests of the child are the primary concern, along with the relationships between the child and their parents and siblings, the mental and physical health of all parties, the stability of the preferred parent and other factors.
If the child changes their mind within two years after the custody order was entered, and they now want to live with the other parent, a motion for custody modification must be filed. The motion must show evidence that the current environment poses a danger to the child’s physical, mental or emotional health. It is the policy of the court to give stability when determining child custody arrangements.
Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you develop or modify a child custody plan that is in the best interests of your children.
In years past, declaring a mother as “un-fit,” due to alcoholism, mental illness or child abuse, was the primary way fathers could get custody of their children. Now the courts are basing their decisions on the best interests of the child in ruling on child custody arrangements. Family courts tend to prefer to place the children with the primary caretaker, when that arrangement is in the child’s best interests.
Child custody is always an emotionally challenging topic with many variables. If you are considering divorce and have concerns about child custody, or if you are unmarried and would like to establish a formal custody arrangement with your child’s other parent, we can help.
Child custody is a complex area of law which requires both the skill and sensitivity that the attorneys at our Chicago family law firm possess. Contact us today at the Women’s Divorce & Custody Group for a free consultation to discuss your case.
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