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Chicago Child Custody Attorney

Mother and son holding hands at the park after child custody battle in Chicago

Dedicated Child Custody Lawyer in Chicago, Cook County and Surrounding Areas

When you and your spouse share children who are under the age of 18 at the time of your divorce, one of the most important decisions that you will need to make is how the two of you will continue to be involved in their upbringing. While these decisions are still commonly referred to as child custody, the State of Illinois now refers to them as the allocation of parental responsibilities out of recognition that in most cases, the care and raising of children remain the shared responsibilities of both parents after a divorce.

However, that does not mean it is always easy for divorcing couples to agree on the terms of their parenting plan, and if you encounter obstacles, an attorney can help you overcome them. At The Law Offices of George J. Skuros, our Chicago child custody attorney will keep your children's best interests in mind as we work to achieve a resolution that allows you to maintain a relationship with your kids and continue to be a part of their lives.

What Should Be Included in a Parenting Plan?

As you and the other parent work to negotiate your parenting plan, you will want to make sure it addresses all relevant issues related to your children. According to OurFamilyWizard.com, a parenting plan should include a schedule for when children will spend parenting time with each parent, and this schedule should also address holidays and special dates. Travel arrangements for children should be addressed, including transportation related to regular parenting time or any other trips. The plan will detail how both of you will make decisions for your children, and it can provide rules for how you will communicate with each other, as well as how each parent may communicate with the children when they are with the other parent. You and the other parent can also make decisions about visits and communication with extended family members or other important people in your children’s lives. Finally, child-related expenses may be addressed, and the parenting plan may determine how you will share various costs.

Child Custody Statistics

Child Custody Statistics Infographic Source census.gov

Elements of the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities in Illinois

During the divorce process, the allocation of parental responsibilities includes decisions in two primary areas: parenting time and significant decision-making. Parenting time, formally known as visitation, refers to the time that the children will spend living with each parent after the divorce, and you will need to address both the distribution of parenting time and the specific schedule of days or weeks that will be allocated to each parent. Significant decision-making involves each parent's authority to make or contribute to decisions regarding important aspects of your children's upbringing, which include:

  • Education, such as where the children will attend school and the need for tutoring or other educational resources
  • Religion, such as the faith in which your children will be raised, attendance of religious services, and each parent's role in religious education
  • Extracurricular activities, such as the children's involvement in clubs, teams, athletics, cultural activities, and more
  • Health, including choice of care providers and decisions related to both physical and mental health treatment

Legal Considerations Regarding Parental Responsibilities

Whereas other aspects of the divorce process, including spousal support and the division of property, primarily focus on the needs and interests of the divorcing spouses, legal decisions regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities will be made according to the best interests of your children. To ensure that this is the case, the court will take into consideration:

  • The children's needs
  • The children's wishes, especially if they have reached a maturity level at which they can express them independently
  • The children's connection to their current home, school, and community
  • The current state of the children's relationships with both parents and their involvement in their lives
  • The physical and mental health of the children and parents
  • The history of domestic violence, sexual abuse, or other dangerous behavior on the part of either parent
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to cooperate with each other, encourage their children to maintain a relationship with the other parent, and put the children's needs above their own
  • The wishes of both parents

If you and the other parent are willing to work together on a parenting plan, this may be your best option for reaching a resolution that meets the needs of everyone involved. You can file your proposed parenting plan with the court, where it may be approved if the court determines that it provides for your children's best interests. If you and the other parent cannot agree, however, the court will need to make a judgment after considering both parents' proposed plans, and in some cases, a report from a court-appointed guardian ad litem regarding the best interests of your children.

Child Custody FAQs


How much parenting time will I have with my child?

Answer: "Parenting time" is the term now used to refer to the time that a child spends living in the care of a parent. In most cases, Illinois courts prefer arrangements in which children are able to spend significant time with both parents. Sometimes, parents will agree on equal parenting time, but the schedule can vary based on a number of factors including school and work schedules, the location of each parent's home, and the preferences of you, your children, and the other parent.


Can I petition for sole custody of my child?

Answer: It is uncommon for one parent to be granted exclusive parenting time and decision-making authority, but it may be possible to petition for sole custody or restricted parenting time under certain circumstances, including when the other parent has shown no interest in exercising parental responsibilities, or when there is evidence that the other parent poses a danger to the child.


Which parent is responsible for decisions about a child's health and education?

Answer: The allocation of parental responsibilities includes the authority to make important decisions about a child's education and health, as well as their religious upbringing and extracurricular activities. Depending on the situation, both parents may share these responsibilities, or sole authority may be granted to one parent.


Will I receive child support if I have primary custody?

Answer: Under Illinois law, the most important factor in calculating child support is the net income of both parents. However, the distribution of parenting time is also considered, and in many cases, the parent with whom a child lives the majority of the time will receive child support from the other parent.


How is child custody determined for unmarried parents?

Answer: When a child is born to parents who are not married, it is first important to establish the father's legal parentage through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or judicial order. Once paternity has been established, the father can petition for the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities.


Will I have to go to court for my child custody case?

Answer: Illinois allows parents to cooperate in the creation of a parenting plan and file it with the court together, making it possible to resolve the case with minimal court involvement. However, if you are unable to negotiate or come to a consensus, you will likely need to resolve your case through a court trial, where an attorney can help you present evidence of your children's best interests and protect your rights as a parent.


What are a child's best interests?

Answer: A child's best interests are the most important consideration when establishing a parenting agreement. The court considers many factors when determining a child's best interests, including their care needs, personal preferences, adjustment to their home, school, and community, and relationships with both parents.


What is a guardian ad litem?

Answer: If the court has questions about a child's best interests, it may appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the case by observing and interviewing the parents, child, and other relevant parties. A guardian ad litem will create a report for the court and will often be asked to testify in a trial.


What happens if the other parent wants to move away with my children?

Answer: If the other parent wants to relocate outside of a certain distance from the children's current home, they will need to notify you in advance and obtain your permission. If you object on the grounds that the move is not in your children's best interests, the court will need to hear the case to determine whether the relocation should be approved.


How do I modify or enforce a parenting agreement?

Answer: If you need to change your parenting plan sometime after the original order is established, you can petition the court on your own or with your child's other parent for a modification. If the other parent fails to uphold the agreement, you can petition the court for enforcement of the order, and the other parent may face serious penalties and charges of contempt of court.

Contact a Child Custody Attorney in Chicago

Contact a Chicago Child Custody Lawyer

Considering the effects that your divorce will have on your children's lives, it is important to work with an attorney who can assist with an appropriate allocation of parental responsibilities. For a free consultation with our experienced Chicago child custody attorney, contact us at 312-884-1222. We represent parents throughout Cook County and the Chicago area, including the North Shore, the Northwest Suburbs, Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Inverness, Schaumburg, and the surrounding areas.

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