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Naperville family law attorneyIn many divorce cases, proceedings to allocate parental responsibilities—previously known as child custody in Illinois—are challenging, nuanced, and emotionally-charged for all involved. It is not uncommon for “winning” child custody to become the main focus for divorcing partners and parents.

With such high stakes, the situation can quickly get very intense, and the spouses may have trouble communicating and negotiating. If you find yourself in the midst of a difficult and contentious dispute over parenting responsibilities, it is crucial to keep your child’s best interest as your top priority. To do so, you should make every effort to avoid:

1. Allowing Hostile Feelings to Take Priority Over Parenting

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Naperville family law attorneyChild custody, now known as allocation of parental responsibilities under Illinois law, is an important topic that comes up for a variety of different reasons. We most often think of child custody during divorces, but child custody issues can also come up between unmarried parents who are arguing about parenting their children, or if two unmarried parents agree on parenting and wish to put their parental rights and obligations into writing. In the conflicted cases, however, if the case reaches a court, the court must rule on child custody issues like parenting time schedules and which parent gets what decision-making authority. Courts look at the child’s best interest when making a decision. Clients involved in child custody situations often ask if there are any factors that could hurt the chances of a court ruling in their favor. While no one can guarantee how a case will be decided, there are a few common factors that weaken one parent’s case.

Being Hostile and Uncooperative

Judges often favor parents who are able to cooperate and be reasonable with each other. This sounds obvious, but, all too often, one parent refuses to put the needs of their children over their own anger. If one parent can prove that the other has been hostile or acting out of emotion instead of prioritizing their children, they will likely have a stronger case for custody. Being unreasonable could lead to a judge not granting shared or joint custody. How can parents be expected to co-parent effectively if they can not even cooperate leading up to their court date?

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Naperville family law attorneyDuring a divorce case, if a couple cannot agree on a parenting plan, a judge will decide on parenting issues. In this scenario, it is common for a judge to seek the help of a custody evaluator. While the laws in Illinois have been recently been amended to utilize the new phrase "allocation of parental responsibilities," the more casual term "custody" is still commonly used when referring to evaluations and evaluators.

The role of a custody evaluator is to gather information on a family and their specific case, and then report back to the court with a recommendation of how parenting time and responsibilities should be allotted. This evaluation can be one of the most important elements that divorcing parents face, and while judges are not required to act on the recommendation of evaluators, courts frequently do use the information provided by the evaluator when making their final decisions. You, your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and your children may meet with an evaluator in his or her office, or a home visit may be scheduled. Though these meetings can be stressful, there are a few tips parents can follow to ensure they are prepared for the evaluation.

What Happens During an Evaluation?

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