Child custody is a sensitive matter and could be difficult to negotiate, especially if you and the other parent  are not legally married. There are laws designed to help parents determine custody, but it can be complicated to navigate these legal waters on your own.

Fortunately, a Joliet unmarried parents and child custody lawyer can make all the difference. A skilled child custody attorney at Reidy Law Office LLC could help you determine the appropriate course of action and advocate on your behalf. Speak to a seasoned attorney to discuss your rights as a parent and your legal options.

Establishment of Paternity

Often, there may be no question with regard to paternity in a child custody matter that involves unmarried parents. However, legal rights of both parents may need to be established in court. Unfortunately, there are times where paternity may be questioned, which could complicate a custody agreement.

In situations where paternity is uncertain, the parties can voluntarily submit to genetic testing. The mother or the alleged father may take legal action. If the mother and alleged father do not take proactive steps on their own, Child Support Services (CSS) could issue an Administrative Paternity Order. If this route is taken, a circuit court judge will make the paternity decision.

Illinois Child Custody Laws

When paternity is not in question, the laws for unmarried parents in Joliet fall under the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA). This framework has been adopted by other states to provide standards that apply to interstate disputes.

Types of Custody

Although Illinois has technically replaced “custody” with Allocation Judgments, the term custody is often still used. When the term “custody” is used, it often refers to two different forms of child custody:  physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody often refers to where the child lives. Fox example, if the child only lives with one parent, that parent has sole physical custody. If the child shares time between two parents, the parents have shared physical custody.

Legal custody is the other type of child custody. This gives a parent the ability to make legally binding decisions on behalf of the child. These would include matters such as school choices, parental permission to play sports, and medical decisions.

Both parents can agree to the custody arrangement and present a parenting plan.  The court will approve the plan if there is no reason why it will serve the best interests of the child.

Contested Custody Cases

Unfortunately, sometimes unmarried parents in Joliet cannot mutually agree upon a custody arrangement. When these circumstances exist, the court will be called upon to make the final decision. Under the laws of the state, the court is required to take certain specific factors into consideration.

The court will always encourage the parents to continue to work out a parenting plan on their own. Often, the court will order mediation to guide the parties to a mutual agreement.

A Joliet Unmarried Parents and Child Custody Attorney Can Help

Custody agreements could be difficult to achieve or agree upon without the help of an experienced legal advocate. A skilled lawyer could ease the process and help you make the best decisions for your child or children. A Joliet unmarried parents and child custody attorney can provide vigorous advocacy and help you understand your rights. Call today to learn more about how our dedicated legal team at Reidy Law Office LLC could help.