Technically, temporary custody orders expire when the judge enters a final order. However, Will County family law judges typically don’t start from scratch. Instead, an old idiom, possession is nine-tenths of the law, usually applies. For practical purposes, the challenging party must prove that the current custody order is harmful to the children and that the proposed child custody order would be a positive improvement.
The harmful to children and positive improvement idea comes from an earlier version of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which was in force from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. That’s a long time ago now. However, many of today’s DuPage County judges started practicing law during this time period. So, this child custody approach usually resonates with them very well during legal arguments.
Judges issue temporary orders following temporary hearings. These hearings usually happen very early in the process, when little evidence is available. So, from that standpoint, they are vulnerable. However, everything isn’t wine and roses. The challenging party must overcome a very strong presumption in Illinois family law, which is that consistency is good for children, even if the plan at issue isn’t perfect. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know, according to another old saying.
The bottom line is that Bolingbrook child custody lawyers have their work cut out for them if they seek to overturn temporary custody orders. But, that’s no reason to give up. Although Mt. Everest is pretty tall, over six thousand people have climbed it. If Bolingbrook child custody lawyers plan their work and work their plans, the results usually exceed all expectations.
Before we get to the nuts and bolts of a child custody case, let’s examine the legal rules which govern this area. The best interests of the children are the key principle in Illinois family law. Everything else stems from that idea.
Phrases like “best interests of the children” are ambiguous. They mean different things to different people at different times. So, Illinois law lists some factors to consider in this area, such as:
Legally, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) in this area. However, as mentioned, reversing a temporary custody order is an uphill fight. If a boxing challenger wants to take the title away from the boxing champion, the challenger normally must knock the champ out or at least knock him down more than once. So, in this situation, a Bolingbrook child custody lawyer must present substantial evidence on at least two or three points.
Generally, the evidence and arguments in these disputes focus on three key areas, the child’s health, education, and welfare.
By the time one parent files for divorce, the parties have usually been separated for several months, or even longer. Typically, a divorce temporary order formalizes the existing child custody and child visitation setup.
“Health” usually refers to the child’s physical or mental health. If Junior has visited a hospital emergency room more than once, that’s a red flag. Accidents happen, but they rarely happen multiple times in a relatively short period of time. Additionally, it’s important to read between the lines. If Junior fell off his bike and hurt his head, that injury probably happened because the custodial parent didn’t make Junior wear a bicycle helmet.
Mental health evidence could be direct or circumstantial. Psychologists and other reports are direct evidence. Statements from friends, classmates, and family members about Junior’s state of mind are circumstantial evidence.
Speaking of classmates, some temporary orders aren’t good for children from an educational standpoint. Consistently low grades, or a downward trend, could be compelling evidence that the current child custody arrangement isn’t in the child’s best interests. Additionally, smaller schools can’t offer the same educational options as larger schools. For example, only some schools have advanced STEM programs.
Child welfare is a closely related matter in most cases. Some schools offer certain activities. For example, some schools have lacrosse teams and some don’t.
So much for poking holes in the current arrangement. Now, how does a Bolingbrook child custody lawyer prove that the proposed custody change would be a positive improvement?
As for health, the healthcare infrastructure is better in some areas. For example, the new neighborhood might have a hospital emergency room as well as a Care Now-type clinic. Additionally, child custody changes usually mean new group health insurance plans. Not all these plans are created equally.
To demonstrate educational improvement, many Bolingbrook child custody lawyers rely on an indirect approach. Perhaps the new neighborhood school has better ratings than the current school. Of course, that fact doesn’t prove Junior would do better in this new school. But, it could be compelling enough to warrant a child custody change. Additionally, some schools have more experienced teachers and administrators than other schools.
As for welfare, we mentioned school extracurricular activities above. Social welfare is important as well. Some neighborhoods have lots of kids and others have almost none. Of course, depending on the makeup of the kids and their parents, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.
It’s difficult, but not impossible, to reverse a temporary child custody order. For a free consultation with an experienced Bolingbrook child custody attorney, contact Keller Legal Services by calling 630-505-1515. We routinely handle matters throughout Chicagoland.