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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 child custody lawyer parenting time restrictionsIn 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) underwent significant updates. What used to be called child custody is now called the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” The time that a parent spends directly caring for his or her child is referred to as “parenting time.” Although the terms “sole custody” and “joint custody” are outdated, these terms are still sometimes used to refer to different types of parenting arrangements. If you are a father who is considering divorce, you may want to know if you could be awarded sole custody, or more accurately, all of the parental responsibilities and/or parenting time. The answer to this question will depend on a variety of factors.

Reaching an Agreement About Your Illinois Parenting Plan

Parents who divorce in Illinois are asked to create a parenting plan in which they describe how they plan to divide parental responsibilities and parenting time, as well as how other important matters will be addressed. Many divorcing couples struggle to reach an agreement about the provisions in their parenting plan. If you and your spouse disagree about child custody issues, a family law attorney may be able to help you negotiate a parenting plan that you can both agree to. Alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaborative law may also enable you to resolve custody disagreements.

Do Illinois Family Courts Favor Mothers Over Fathers?

If you cannot reach an agreement through other means, the court will step in and determine a parenting plan on your behalf. Many people are under the assumption that mothers are favored over fathers during child custody disputes. However, the laws in Illinois treat parents the same, regardless of their gender. Illinois courts make all child-related decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests. Some of the factors courts consider when allocating parental responsibilities and parenting time include:

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Wheaton divorce attorney for sole child custodyIn 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) underwent major revisions. One of the biggest changes was an update to the language used to describe child custody. Instead of “child custody” and “visitation,” the terms “parental responsibility” and “parenting time” are used to describe parenting duties. Parental responsibilities refers to a parent’s authority to make major decisions about a child’s education, medical care, and other issues involved in their upbringing, whereas parenting time is the actual time that a parent spends caring for the child. Many divorced and unmarried parents split parental responsibilities and parenting time in a shared parenting arrangement, but some situations may require one parent to take on all of the parental responsibilities and/or parenting time.

Illinois Courts Typically Encourage Shared Parenting

Illinois courts usually prefer parenting arrangements that allow both of a child’s parents to be involved in his or her life. However, there are some situations in which a parent may be awarded “sole custody” or sole decision-making authority for a child. Non-custodial parents have a right to reasonable amounts of parenting time, unless there is some reason that the parent cannot adequately provide for the child’s safety and well-being. If a parent is found to be “unfit,” it is possible that the court will award the other parent 100 percent of the parental responsibilities and/or parenting time. If you wish to have all of the decision-making authority and parenting time, you will need to provide evidence to the court which proves that it is in your child’s best interests not to spend time with his or her other parent.

A parent may be considered unfit to have decision-making authority and/or parenting time if he or she cannot adequately complete caretaking tasks and keep the child safe. More specifically, a parent may not be awarded parental responsibilities or parenting time if he or she:

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DuPage County divorce and child custody attorneyFiling for divorce can represent an opportunity to begin a new life. Leaving a loveless marriage or an unhealthy relationship can oftentimes be the best decision a person can make. Still, the divorce process can quickly become complicated, especially when children are involved. Custody battles can be lengthy and stressful, and winning sole custody of children can be especially difficult. If you are filing for divorce and looking to address issues related to child custody, you need quality legal guidance. 

Preparing for a Custody Battle

Every year, thousands of Americans file for divorce. Many people seeking a separation from their former spouse do not prepare for the divorce process in a proper manner. Listed below are a few steps that every person should take if they are looking to secure custody rights for their children:

  • Devise a Strategy: As you approach the divorce process, it is important to strategically plan for all important aspects of the separation. For parents, nothing is more important than their children. In order to secure custody, you and your legal team need to present a compelling case to the judge. Speaking with your attorney about what areas you want to focus on can be key to your case. Has your former spouse been absent in crucial parenting moments, or have they struggled to maintain steady employment? Have there been any instances of domestic violence or abuse, and can you provide evidence of risks to your children? Presenting your legal team with as much information as possible is critical to building your strategy. 
  • Prove Yourself as a Parent: While your legal team works on your case, there are steps you need to take in order to prove that you are capable of handling independent parenting. Make sure that your house or apartment has space for your children to live, play, sleep, and do homework. Avoid heavy drinking or other forms of substance abuse. If you are relocating, conduct research on your area’s school system and the extracurricular activities available. Demonstrating that you are the best person to care for your children is key to winning custody. 
  • Secure Child Support Payments: Parenting as an individual can be incredibly financially difficult. As you speak with your legal team regarding custody, it is important to have a discussion about securing child support payments from your former spouse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 45.6 of single custodial parents throughout the United States were provided with full child support payments. A quality legal team can ensure that you receive full payments both now and in the future. 

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney 

At The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C., our legal team fully understands how stressful the divorce process can be, especially when children are involved. We have decades of experience in divorce cases involving children, and we can help you present a compelling case to a judge as you seek to secure sole custody of your children. Our team is also prepared to aggressively fight for child support payments from your former spouse. If you are filing for divorce, you need the legal assistance of a team you can trust. To schedule a consultation with a Wheaton divorce attorney, contact us today at 630-462-9500. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysFor most parents navigating the divorce process, every decision is centered around the well-being of their children. A divorce can be an incredibly difficult emotional process for all members of the family, but watching parents separate can be especially challenging for children to process.

Some parents elect to fight for sole custody in their divorce. This decision can be based on a number of factors, primarily relating to one spouse’s doubts regarding the other spouse’s ability to navigate parenting responsibilities. Yet, if both parties still believe in the other spouse’s parenting ability, it may be best to begin discussing the possibility of a shared custody parenting plan.

How Shared Custody Can Impact Your Child 

According to statistics compiled by the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 13.4 sole-custody parents living in the United States. In some cases, sole-custody is the right decision to make for your child’s well-being, but there are numerous benefits to exploring the possibility of shared custody.

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