Child custody can be a highly contentious issue that a Cook County lawyer can help with. When finalizing a child custody arrangement, courts in Cook County will make decisions based on whatever is in the best interests of your children. Relevant factors can include the wishes of your child, the mental health of your child, you, and/or the other parent, and the schedules of the parents.

Understanding How Child Custody is Determined

A family law court will always look at the best interests of the child when making or approving a child custody arrangement. In making that determination, a judge may consider some or all of the following factors that are included in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act:

  • The wishes of the parents
  • The child’s wishes
  • The child’s relationship with the parents
  • Each parent’s willingness to facilitate a loving relationship with the other parent
  • Whether either parent is a sex offender
  • Whether either parent is an active duty service member
  • The opinion of a third party, such as a child psychologist

The courts want to have both parents be involved in your child’s life as much as possible. Simply put, this means that both parents are often given authority to make major decisions regarding your child’s upbringing. You should be aware, though, that being awarded joint legal custody does not necessarily mean that you and the parent will have equal parenting time.

However, the court may try to make sure that both you and the other parent has as many overnights as makes sense for your unique circumstances. It is important to note that a parent may not be given parenting time if the court believes that it has the potential to endanger the child’s physical, emotional, or mental wellbeing.

Modifying Agreements

A court can always modify a child custody arrangement if it determines that it no longer serves the best interests of the child. Typically, one parent will seek a modification if there has been a significant change in circumstances. A change in circumstances can be anything that affects your child, you, and/or the other parent.

The following are examples of what can potentially prompt a judge to approve a petition for modification of child custody:

  • One or more instances of neglect on the part of a parent, such as not making sure the child’s basic needs are being met
  • A significant drop in the child’s performance at school
  • Alcohol abuse or the presence of illicit drugs in a household
  • A major increase or decrease in the financial resources of either parent
  • One parent moving away

A Cook County Attorney Can Help With Child Custody Issues

The “best interests” factors are applied in all child custody matters in Cook County. That being said, you do have rights as a parent under state law and deserve to be able to exercise those rights. It is important that your judge hears your perception of the factors in a clear manner so that the judge can determine the decision only after clearly understanding you. To make sure your children are provided for, reach out to Reidy Law Office LLC. Our team can help you give your child the best possible future.