There are many important factors to consider when it comes to a divorce. There are questions about homes, cars, bank accounts, bills, debts, and many other aspects of the marriage that need to be addressed—but one of the most important things to consider when finalizing a divorce is child custody. A Mokena child custody lawyer could help you ask the right questions and understand the process.

Every marriage is different, and every child custody arrangement is different as well. However, there are some basic aspects of child custody that apply to most cases. Understanding some of those aspects with the help of a family attorney may help you prepare for the challenges that can be a part of child custody and related negotiations.

Types of Custody

There are two basic categories of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines which parent the child lives with during a given time, and legal custody determines which parent has the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s well-being. These decisions can include determinations about matters like medical care and education, though either parent can usually make emergency medical decisions on the child’s behalf.

Typically, courts prefer for parents to determine a child custody schedule that works best for them. When there are significant disagreements during the child custody negotiation process, courts may intervene and make a child custody determination based on the facts before them. However, parents have a much better understanding of an individual family’s needs and may be better served by working with their Mokena child custody lawyers to find an agreement that works for everyone.

Best Interests of the Child

As with most states, Illinois courts make child custody determinations based on the best interests of the child. In Illinois, factors used by the courts to determine the best interests of the child can be found in 750 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/602.5(c) and include:

  • The wishes of each parent
  • The child’s needs
  • The wishes of the child, when appropriate
  • The mental and physical health of all parties, including the child
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child
  • The level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child

This is not a complete list, as the law instructs courts to consider all relevant factors when making determinations on child custody matters.

These factors can differ for every family, too. The needs of each child are unique, as is a custody arrangement that works for both parents. A Mokena child custody lawyer could offer assistance determining what factors might be relevant regarding specific child custody issues.

Let a Mokena Child Custody Attorney Assist You

There are few things in life as important as the well-being of your children, and ensuring you are focusing on their best interests can be essential. After all, when it comes to divorce, parents are not the only ones who face difficult choices and uncertain circumstances. In the same vein, working with a Mokena child custody lawyer who understands how important the consequences of child custody decisions can be may also be important.

Just like every child is different and unique, so is every divorce. If you have questions and concerns about child custody and what divorce might mean for you, contact a child custody attorney in Mokena for a consultation.

Your children are probably the most important thing in your life, and you could never imagine being away from them for an extended time. For that reason, the idea of splitting parenting time with a former spouse or partner can sometimes seem unbearable.

While a shared parenting arrangement may take some adjustment for everyone in a child’s life, there is a great deal a family attorney could do to facilitate that process. An experienced Mokena child custody lawyer could help you create a parenting plan that minimizes interruptions in your children’s daily lives.

Child Custody Terminology

Several legal terms are commonly used to describe issues of child custody. These terms can be confusing without a Mokena child custody attorney on hand to clarify their meaning, especially because many of them were recently changed.

For example, the term “Allocation Judgment”—or parenting plan—refers to the document that is entered into during a divorce or paternity case between two parents. This document describes where the children will live, when each parent will have parenting time with the children, and who will pay child support.

Before the law changed in 2016, courts in Illinois referred to the parent with whom the child spent the most time as the “custodial parent,” while the other parent had “visitation.” Courts today, use the terms “Allocation of Parental Responsibility,” “Parenting Time,” and other new terms that are used to eliminate some of the confusion caused by “custody.”.

As such, Illinois state law now refers to this arrangement as the “allocation of parenting time and responsibility.” This type of language avoids the implication that there is a loser or winner in a custody battle such as “primary custody”—instead, there is a sliding scale of time and responsibility that can fluctuate between the parents as their circumstances change.

Determining Parenting Time in Illinois

In a divorce or paternity action, the allocation of parental responsibility is always determined by what is in the best interests of your children. Above all else, the courts are obligated to ensure that any decision made will not harm the children and will create as little disruption to the child’s life as is necessary.

As a parent, you must make many decisions about your during a divorce or paternity case, including where the children will spend their physical time. If you cannot agree, the Judge assigned will make this major decision on behalf of your children. Usually, the parent with less physical parenting time with the children pays child support to the parent who has more time. This helps prevent one parent from shouldering all the financial burdens of feeding, housing, dressing, and caring for the children. There are some important exceptions that are too numerous to cover here.

It is also important to determine who has decision-making power about significant life choices in the child’s life, which was formerly known as legal custody. We now call this the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities, which includes only four major decisions: (1) Education, (2) Religion, (3) Extracurricular Activities, and (4) Health care.

Often, parents agree to split this power equally and make joint decisions for their children’s welfare. However, in cases where one parent is abusive or absent, the other parent may retain all this authority themselves.

Once parents agree on how to split their parenting time, nearly every other type of decision—from holidays to pets to grandparent visitation—can be decided and provided for in a parenting agreement. A child custody lawyer in Mokena could help establish such an agreement and make sure it is enforceable and equitable.

Get in Touch with a Mokena Child Custody Attorney Today

The key to building a successful parenting plan is to be flexible. As children age and circumstances change, parents need to be able to adapt without having to go to court to change their agreement once a year.

By working with a knowledgeable Mokena child custody lawyer, you could create a plan that will adapt with you and provide stability for you and your family. Don’t wait to get started—contact an experienced child custody attorney today to start exploring your legal options.