Child Custody / Parental Responsibilities
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Child Issues

Naperville Child Custody Attorneys

Lawyers for Custody Matters in DuPage County

Recent changes to the law in Illinois have transformed the concept of child custody into the allocation of parental responsibilites. Although intended to be a more fluid and cooperative approach, parents may have trouble reaching an agreement. When this is the case, Illinois courts base child custody or parental responsibility decisions on the best interests of the children. However, just as politicians disagree about the country's best interests, mothers and fathers, whether they are married or not, often disagree about the children's best interests. Indeed, although the dispute may lie dormant for a few months or years, the underlying conflict often never goes away.

Even though we routinely handle child custody matters at Pesce Law Group, P.C., your family is not a statistic. Our attorneys listen to you and quickly evaluate the situation. In the end, we can prepare an order that upholds the best interest of the children, and not one person's opinion as to what their best interests may be.

Determination

Through a combination of state laws, legal precedents, and practical experience, most courts use the following factors when allocating parental responsibilities. They are, in no particular order:

  • Agreement Between the Parties: Most judges defer to an agreement, both because such deference reduces conflict and because the judge assumes that the parents know their kids. That being said, it is not unusual for a judge to send the parties back to the conference room for additional negotiations, or to discount the plan entirely.
  • Siblings: Appellate courts have repeatedly instructed trial judges to keep siblings together if at all possible, so separate arrangements are rare.
  • Children's Wishes: Legally, the children must be old enough to articulate their desires to a judge. This interview typically takes place in private. The older the children, the more weight the judge is likely to give their preferences.
  • Physical and Mental Health: Is a parent physically and mentally healthy enough to keep up with the demands of active parenting?
  • Stability: If possible, judges like to keep children in the same area of town, so they can maintain their friends and attend the same school. 
  • Ability to Co-Parent: Courts prefer for both parents involved in the childrens' lives, if at all possible. If one parent makes disparaging comments about the other or interferes with visitation, now called parenting time, a judge may be reluctant to allocate responsibilities to the belligerent parent.
  • Family Violence: Different people have different definitions of "abuse," but violence or threats of violence are never acceptable.

Modification

Life happens, and a custody/parenting order often needs to be changed later. In fact, a rule of thumb is that the parents will probably be back in court at least once every four or five years on a modification action. Judges typically change the order if the alteration is based on a substantial change in circumstances that could not have been reasonably anticipated at the time of divorce.

A child custody determination based on objective evidence is an important cornerstone of a happy household. For a free consultation with a knowledgeable family law attorney, contact Pesce Law Group, P.C. at 630-352-2240.

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