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Wheaton divorce attorney for sole child custodyIn Illinois law, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” are no longer used. Parenting duties now consist of parental responsibilities and parenting time. This change was made in large part to present parenting tasks as a spectrum as opposed to one parent being the “custodial parent” and the other parent as merely “visiting” the child. However, there are still cases in which it may be in the child’s best interests for one parent to have most – if not all – of the parental responsibilities and parenting time.  

The Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

The term “parental responsibilities” refers to how parents will make significant decisions about the child’s life. Per Illinois law, significant decisions are decisions pertaining to:

  • Education

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Wheaton family law attorneyChild custody cases are often some of the most contentious family law disputes. When it comes to children, emotions typically run high. Parents may do or say nearly anything to get the child custody outcome they want. Sadly, it is often the children themselves that are most damaged in a combative child custody case. If your child’s other parent has accused you of abusing your child in an attempt to sway the outcome of your child custody dispute, it is crucial that you take steps now to protect your rights as well as the rights of your child.

Speak with a Lawyer Who is Experienced in Child Custody Disputes

Illinois courts always make child custody decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests. Being accused of child abuse or domestic violence can have a dramatic impact on your child custody case. If your child’s other parent has brought unfounded allegations of abuse against you, there are several things that you should do immediately. First, speak with a family law attorney who has experience handling situations like these.

Your lawyer will help you take the steps needed to fight the accusations and avoid worsening your situation. Your lawyer may recommend requesting a guardian ad litem (GAL) to be assigned to your case. A GAL is a specially trained attorney who investigates the facts of a child custody case and then makes a recommendation to the judge based on his or her findings. The GAL may interview you, your child, your child’s siblings, teachers, and other caretakers. The GAL may visit your home and the home of your child’s other parent and observe child-parent interactions. The court is not required to follow the GAL’s counsel but a recommendation from a GAL will carry considerable weight.

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DuPage County child custody dispute attorneyMany divorcing parents have strong opinions about how parental responsibilities and parenting time should be divided. Parents may disagree about the child’s primary residence, parenting time schedules, how major decisions about the child should be made, and much more. If you are a divorcing parent in the middle of a child-related dispute, or you suspect that you soon will be, you may have questions about how child custody decisions are made in Illinois. You may wonder about the impact that your child’s opinion could have on the outcome of your case. In Illinois, child interviews may be used to gather information about the child’s thoughts and opinions during a custody dispute. However, these interviews are only one element of the court’s decision-making process.

Disagreements about Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities

Although many family law cases address child custody in a general sense, Illinois law no longer uses the terms “child custody” and “visitation.” In the actual law, child custody is described by the “allocation of parental responsibilities,” meaning the parents’ decision-making authority, and “parenting time,” which is the actual time a parent spends with their child. Decisions about parental responsibilities, parenting time, and other custody-related issues must be stated in the parents’ “parenting plan.” If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to allocate parental responsibilities or parenting time, you may be able to negotiate an agreement with help from your attorneys or through an alternative dispute resolution method like mediation. However, if you still cannot reach an agreement, your case may go to court.

How Illinois Courts Make Decisions in Child Custody Disputes

If your child custody dispute cannot be resolved out of court, a judge will hear arguments from both parties and then issue a judgment about the unresolved issues. Illinois courts consider the wishes of the parents as well as those of the children in many child custody cases. Often, a special representative called a guardian ad litem (GAL) is assigned to represent a child’s best interests during a child custody dispute. The GAL may gather the child’s testimony during an interview and incorporate that information into his or her formal recommendation to the court. 

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DuPage County child custody dispute lawyerIf you are a married parent who is thinking of getting divorced, you probably have concerns about how this will impact your child. You may also have concerns about how you and your child’s other parent will share custody of your child. In Illinois, child custody is divided into two primary components: allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parental responsibilities involve the decision-making authority a parent has regarding important issues in a child’s life, while parenting time is the actual time a parent spends caring for their child. If you are like many parents facing a potential child custody dispute, you may wonder if your child will have any say in how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be divided.

Negotiating a Parenting Plan

According to Illinois law, you and your child’s other parent have 120 days after filing for divorce to submit a parenting plan. Your plan must contain decisions about many different issues including:

  • How you will make major child-related decisions

    ...

DuPage County divorce lawyer for parental alienationDivorcing or divorced spouses are not typically on great terms with each other. While some divorces are relatively amicable, other divorce cases are filled with hostility and revenge-seeking behavior. Sadly, children are often the ones who get hurt in extremely contentious divorces. Sometimes, a parent even intentionally attempts to turn a child against the other parent. This is known as parental alienation, and it can happen when an adult uses brainwashing and other manipulative strategies to damage the child’s relationship with their parent. If you have been a victim of parental alienation, you should know that you have certain rights under Illinois law. The alienation may even be cause for restriction of the other parent’s parental responsibilities or parenting time.

Types of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a controversial subject. However, the phenomenon is very real. The term was conceived in 1985 to describe undue influence on a child that causes the child to fear or despise his or her parent. Some experts have suggested that parental alienation can cause an actual psychological disorder called Parental Alienation Syndrome, but this disorder is not listed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual or recognized by the American Psychological Association. Nevertheless, there have been many documented cases in which a parent or other party willfully attempts to destroy the parent-child relationship, and these types of actions can have a direct impact on child custody issues.

Parental alienation may include actions such as:

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