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Experienced Naperville Child Custody Lawyers

Our Naperville child custody lawyers understand that a divorce is a life-changing event for most people, as it takes a toll on their lives in one way or the other. The process becomes particularly difficult when both parties are in conflict with regard to child custody issues. Each parent wants to keep their children close and thinks they are capable of providing the best for them. When spouses are going through divorce proceedings, the family court requires them to show their capability to cover parental privileges and duties, which in turn decides the relationship with their children after divorce.

While you may not want to remain married to each other anymore, you will always be parents to your children. Since the future of your children significantly depends on this matter, we prefer settling the child custody issues through mutual agreement, allowing both spouses to keep the family bonds intact as they step into their new lives.

Types of Child Custody in Illinois

Child custody laws in Illinois have changed, and our state no longer uses the term “custody.” Instead, it has replaced the term with “parental responsibilities,” which includes decision-making power over the child as well as the right to parenting time. A parent with decision-making power has the right to decide important issues involving the child, such as medical care, education, religion, and after-school activities.

Each parent should also spend time physically with their child unless they lose their parental rights. Although parents might want to divide time with the child 50/50, this is often unrealistic unless the parents live very close together. Children attend school most of the year, and they can’t spend too much time on the road traveling between households.

As Illinois child custody lawyers in Naperville Illinois, we realize parents are afraid of losing contact with their children following a divorce. However, custody is rarely an “all or nothing” proposition. Parents can share both decision-making power and parenting time with their children. Visitation might not be 50/50, but each parent should have meaningful time with their children such as their schedules allow. Sole custody is increasingly rare in Illinois.

Negotiating a Parenting Plan

Not every divorce needs to be contested. Parents retain the ability to determine a joint custody agreement that will take into consideration each parent’s schedule. Parents can come up with a plan that works for them and their child without asking a judge for help. When parents negotiate their own parenting plan, they set themselves up well for successful co-parenting going forward.

Illinois courts encourage parental cooperation, and judges can order mediation when parents cannot come up with a mutual parenting plan. A neutral third party will listen to each parent and devise solutions that both sides can agree on. As seasoned Naperville child custody lawyers, we have sat beside our clients in mediation and will always make sure their rights are protected. The mediator is not a judge, and any proposals must be willingly adopted by our client.

How is Child Custody Determined in Naperville?

At Keller Legal Services, our Naperville child custody lawyers have over 30 years of experience in helping clients settle divorce matters in a timely and effective manner. In Illinois, most courts make child custody determinations based on the best interests of the child. To that end, they consider the following factors when deciding on which parent should get custody of the children:

  • Psychological and Physical Health: The judge evaluates the physical and mental health of each parent to ensure they are capable of proper upbringing and fulfilling the demands of parenting.
  • Child’s wishes: Legally, if the children are old enough, they can express their desires to the court. They are given a chance to articulate their wishes to the judge in a private session. The rule of thumb is, the older the children, the better chances are for the judge to consider their preferences.
  • Siblings: If there are two or more children, judges try to keep the siblings together and separate arrangements are fairly uncommon.
  • Agreement between the Spouses: Most courts give preference to mutual agreements if parents have negotiated about child custody and visitation outside the courtroom.
  • Domestic Violence: If there is a history of domestic violence, the judge is likely to give child custody to the non-abusing parent.

Judges no longer assume that young children should be with their mothers. Instead, each parent appears before the court on equal footing.

At Keller Legal Services, we provide effective legal counsel to all types of families involved in child custody disputes that benefit all parties. We believe that every parent has the right to stay in touch with their children. If it is in your child’s best interest, our Naperville child custody attorneys will assist you in protecting your parental rights. We will work closely with you to help you understand different legal options that are available to you and ensure your interests are protected throughout the divorce process.

Illinois Child Custody Laws for Fathers

Not all child custody disputes arise during the context of divorce. Many people are not married to the other parent when they conceive a child. Nevertheless, both parents want to be involved in the child’s life after birth.

One question we often receive is who has custody of a child when the parents are not married. This is easy. The mother is the child’s sole parent until the father establishes his paternity. When two people are married, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the father. However, when they are not married, there is no presumption.

Instead, men must establish their paternity using an acceptable method. If the mother agrees our client is the father, then we can go ahead and establish paternity by having both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage. However, when there is a dispute—say, when the woman claims a different man is the father—our client must bring a case before the court. Judges typically order a DNA test to establish parentage.

Our father’s rights attorney realizes how hard it can be to go without seeing your child. Nevertheless, men have no custody rights for a child until they establish paternity.

Illinois Child Custody Questions

At what age can a child decide if they want to visit the other parent?

There is no magic age at which a child’s opinion matters. However, as children age and become teens, judges are more likely to consider the child’s wishes. For example, a judge is probably very likely to consider what a 16-year-old wants.

Are judges biased against unwed fathers?

Each judge is different, so it is difficult to generalize. Judges are not supposed to treat unwed fathers any differently, but it can happen. Bias is often hard to detect—and for a judge to admit. At Keller Legal Services, we pride ourselves on fighting for rights for unwed fathers. It usually is not difficult to establish paternity. The state is eager to have you financially support the child. However, gaining decision-making authority and a fair share of time with your children can be a challenge.

Should I move out of the house now that we are divorcing?

You might think twice. Many judges want to maintain the status quo with a divorce. If you are a father who leaves the home, the judge might assume that everything is working fine if Mom receives the bulk of the time with the children. Talk to your Naperville child custody attorney before packing your bags.

I work crazy hours; can I get custody of my children?

You should definitely still have meaningful time with your child. However, you need to come up with a parenting plan that allocates where the children will live during the year. When parents spend a lot of time traveling for work, it can be hard to craft a parenting plan when so much is up in the air.

Can I keep the other parent from seeing the children?

Probably not. Unless there has been abuse, severe neglect, or abandonment, a parent has the right to see their children. If your spouse has been abusive to you or the kids, let us know.

What’s the difference between custody and visitation?

There really isn’t one. The legislature had the laudable goal of trying to reduce custody disputes. In their view, parents saw custody in black-and-white terms as something you won or lost.

However, many of our clients still fight over custody. In particular, parents want to have the children during the school year, which is what “custody” means for most people. Unless the parents live in the same school district, children generally will spend most of the school year with one parent. The other parent typically sees the children on the weekend, during school vacations, and during the summer. Depending on where they live, they sometimes get a weekday overnight.

Do I have a right to see my children on the holidays?

No. However, we can include holiday visitation in the parenting plan.

Contact Our Naperville Child Custody Attorneys 

Child custody is a sensitive and complicated matter and should be handled by an experienced and knowledgeable Naperville child custody attorney. Whether you want to stand your ground for getting custody of your child or negotiate on the visitation schedule, our Naperville attorneys can provide you with skilled legal counsel and aggressive representation. Call us today at 630-505-1515 or contact our firm online to schedule an initial consultation.