Secure Child Custody in Illinois

To get child custody in Illinois the first step is filing the right action

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Secure Custody & Placement during a Divorce

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Enforce Custody, Placement & Visitation Orders

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Modify Custody, Placement & Visitation Orders

How Courts View Custody & Placement

In regards to child custody, referred to as “parental responsibilities” in Illinois, parents working together always ensures the best outcome for their child. When parents are on good speaking terms, they will submit a parenting plan together that outlines the division of parental responsibilities and parenting time. However, when parents are unable to develop a parenting plan together and can’t resolve their differences through mediation, the Illinois courts will look at several factors to determine custody and placement of the child for them. However, when a case goes in this direction, the parents lose their say and the judge has complete control over the outcome.

In Illinois family court, unless there is a physical or psychological risk to the child, the court allocates parental responsibilities and parenting time in a way that maximizes time with the child for both parents. In practical terms, this means the court wants both parents involved with the child as much as possible. Most importantly, regardless of preferences, inconveniences or hopes, the court will put the best interest of the child first in all decisions they make.

As stated above, spouses working together almost always results in the best deal for both the child and the parents as it allows them to decide what’s best for their own children instead of the court. Of course, there are always situations where an amicable solution can’t be found. In these situations, it’s important to have a full understanding of what the court considers the key factors deciding the allocation of parental duties.

Want to Start a Parenting Plan?

Co-Parenting Template for WIsconsin

To get an idea of the issues you’ll need to think about in the months after filing divorce, have a look over our parenting plan worksheet. Start to consider parenting schedule, and how other major decisions will be made. The earlier you start the process, the smoother it will go.

Things You Should Know Before You Proceed

How Courts Determine Parental Responsibilities aka “Legal Custody”

When determining parental responsibilities, the court considers a long list of factors one-by-one before making a judgment.  We summarize the main factors the judge will think about below but remember that coming to an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child is always the main goal. So for example, right at the top of the list is the wishes of the child. Even if the child wishes to be with a particular parent exclusively if the court sees that as being against their best interest for financial reasons or personal reasons, they will rule against that wish.

  1. The wishes and preferences of the child themselves.
  2. The current adjustment of the child to their new circumstances – in other words, the benefits or drawbacks of moving the child away from their current school, friends and lifestyle.
  3. The mental health and physical health of the child and parents.
  4. The ability for both parents to cooperate and make decisions for their child together.
  5. How much each parent contributed to making decisions for the child in the past.
  6. Any previous or existing arrangements regarding parental responsibilities or prior conduct as it relates the child.
  7. The wishes of both parents
  8. The needs of the child.
  9. The distance between the parent’s homes and its effect on their ability to cooperate in raising the child.
  10. Any restrictions on either parent deemed necessary by the court under Illinois statue 750 ILCS 5/603.10
  11. The willingness and ability of each parent to encourage the relationship to the child with the other parent.
  12. Physical violence or the threat of physical violence directed at the child
  13. Abuse of the child or another member of the child’s household
  14. Whether one of the parents is a sex offender and if so the nature of the sexual offense as determine by the court
  15. Any other factor determined to be relevant by the court

Remember it’s always the judge’s preference that you and your spouse agree on a reasonable parenting plan instead of having the court dole out parental responsibilities.

How Courts Determine Parenting Time aka “Placement”

Similar to how the court determines parenting responsibilities, parenting time is also decided based on what is in the child’s best interests. If you and your spouse can’t come to a mutual agreement, then the court will consider roughly seventeen points individually to come to their own arrangement instead. These points include:&nbsp

  1. The wishes of both parents seeking parenting time.
  2. The wishes of the child if they are mature or able enough to express themselves.
  3. The time spent by each parent in taking care of the child previously.
  4. Any previous agreement between the parents or conduct as it relates to parenting time historically.
  5. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the parent and or siblings or another person who significantly affects the child.
  6. The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community.
  7. The mental and physical capacities of all parties involved.
  8. The needs of the child.
  9. The distance and cost or transporting the child to and from each parent’s residence
  10. Whether a restriction is currently in place on parenting time for either parent
  11. If there’s a history of physical violence or the threat of physical violence towards the child or any other household member
  12. Ability of the parent to put the needs of the child above their own needs
  13. The ability and willingness of each parent to foster and encourage a relationship with the other parent and the child
  14. The presence of abuse toward the child or any other household member
  15. If either parent is a convicted sex offender and if so the nature of the conviction as well as any treatment completed by the offender
  16. The terms of either parent based on active military duty by one or both parents
  17. Any other relevant factor as determined by the court

Restricting Parenting Time and Parental 

Responsibilities
Illinois has set a high standard for one parent to restrict parenting time and or parental responsibilities from the other parent. Even when it is done, it is done only when normal parenting time is deemed to be a threat to the well-being of the child. After a hearing demonstrating that one parent is or has seriously endangered the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health the court will move to restrict parenting time and or responsibilities.

The types of restrictions that are put in place by the court are varied and can range from supervision to limiting communication. A list can be found here:

  1. Reduction or elimination or parenting time and or parental responsibilities
  2. Supervision, either indefinite or for a set time frame
  3. Requiring the parent to exchange children through an intermediary
  4. Restrain the parent from communicating or being in the proximity of the other parent or child
  5. Requiring the parent to abstain from possessing or consuming nonprescription substances within a specified time before parenting time
  6. Restricting specific people from the proximity of the child during one parent’s parenting time
  7. Requiring one parent to post bond before exercising parenting time
  8. Requiring a parent to complete a treatment program
  9. Any other restriction deemed appropriate by the court

Regardless of your personal feelings about your ex-spouse, only a court can determine if it’s appropriate to restrict parenting time. If you take matters into your own hands you would be denying a court order and found in contempt of court, incurring fines and possible jail time.

Types of Child Custody in Illinois

Other Child Custody Options

Alternating Custody

Sometimes referred to as divided custody, alternating custody occurs when the child lives with one parent for a semester or several months of a year and then spends time living with the other parent for another extended period of time. The length of stay with each parent is not necessarily proportionate or relative to how long the child previously spent with the other parent.

During these stays, the parent with whom the child is currently living with is the provider for that child and oversees all responsibility of the child.

Shared Custody

Shared custody is a pretty common custody model. It occurs when the child is with one parent for a set amount of time and then with the other parent for a similar amount of time.

Unlike alternating custody, both parents the responsibilities of the child. So even if the child is not presently spending time with you, your rights as a parent are never minimized or taken away from you.

Nesting

Nesting custody removes the burden of going from one parents home to the other. In this custody setting, the parent’s share a residency where the child will always reside. The parents then alternate who stays at that residence and when.

This custody option provides stability for the child and allows them to have the feeling of always having a home regardless of which parent is staying there with them at the time.

Pick an Action to Begin Securing Child Custody in Illinois

Secure Custody & Placement during a Divorce

Enforce Custody, Placement & Visitation Orders

Modify Custody, Placement & Visitation Orders

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