Child Custody Lawyer Near Me

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Child Custody Lawyer Near Me

In 2016, the Illinois Legislature made a number of significant changes to the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. One of these changes involved eliminating the term “child custody” from family law courts. This issue is now described in terms of an allocation of parental responsibilities, which can be further broken down into the allocation of parenting time and decision-making responsibilities between a child’s parents. So, while many divorcing parents may still search the internet for a “child custody lawyer near me,” it’s important to understand that the courts will not use this term during your case.

Generally, courts presume it is in the best interest of a child to have a relationship with both parents and as a result, parenting time and decision-making responsibilities are often divided between both parents. However, this is not always true, such as in cases involving domestic abuse, and a court may need to come up with an acceptable schedule if the parents cannot agree on these issues between themselves. 

Resolving these types of legal matters can be complicated and emotionally taxing, so if you and your child’s other parent have decided to separate or file for divorce, it is important to contact an experienced allocation of parental responsibilities lawyer who can ensure that your child’s interests are protected.

What is Parenting Time?

Parenting time refers to the period of time during which each parent is responsible for a child’s caretaking functions. This concept replaces the previous terms of “physical custody” and “visitation.” It is common for one parent to have more parenting time than the other, although many variations are possible.

Parenting time is determined through a parenting plan. Many parents are able to create their own parenting plan through negotiation in an out-of-court setting. In these cases, judges need only review and approve the plan for it to be considered legally binding. If an agreement cannot be reached between the parents, the court will step in and allocate parenting time based on what the judge determines is in the child’s best interests. 

How Do Courts Determine the “Best Interests of the Child?”

Unlike many states, Illinois does not have a standard parenting time schedule in place. Instead, judges work with parents to design plans that address the specific needs of each family by assessing a number of factors to determine what is in the child’s best interests. These factors include: 

  • The child’s relationship with both parents and any siblings;
  • The child’s school, home, and community relationships;
  • The distance between the parties’ homes;
  • The wishes of both parents and the child;
  • The parents’ daily schedules;
  • Whether there is a history of domestic abuse in the family;
  • The needs of the child;
  • Each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • The time each parent has spent performing caretaking functions in the year prior to the litigation; and
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant.

It is possible for parents to create their own parenting time schedule, although before it can be implemented, it must be approved by the court and deemed to be in the child’s best interests. 

Contact a Local Child Custody Lawyer for Legal Assistance

While a “child custody lawyer near me” might be a thing of the past for Illinois parents, there are still numerous reasons to work with an experienced family law attorney when negotiating or modifying an allocation of parental responsibilities. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced allocation judgment lawyer in your area, please contact WARD FAMILY LAW, LLC by submitting one of our brief online contact forms today.



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