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Illinois Child Custody FAQs

Chicago Attorney Answers Questions About Parenting Time and Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Whether you are getting a divorce or you are expecting a child while you are unmarried, you may have many questions regarding how your situation will be handled according to Illinois family law statutes. The state's recent change in terminology from "child custody" and "visitation" to "allocation of parental responsibilities" and "parenting time" may contribute to your uncertainty, and it is important to know where you can turn for clarification.

At The Law Offices of George J. Skuros, we have served Illinois families for over 30 years, and keeping our clients educated and informed about the legal process is one of our top priorities. When we work with you, we will answer your questions specific to your case and help you protect the interests of you and your children. We also offer these answers to frequently asked questions about child-related legal issues as a resource for anyone looking to understand the basics.

How much parenting time will I have with my child?

"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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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 Cook County Child Custody Lawyer

If you need answers to questions about your case, contact us today at 312-884-1222 for a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Cook County, including Chicago, Schaumburg, Inverness, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, Park Ridge, and the North Shore.

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