Illinois Child Custody Lawyers
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Child custody is the action requesting the court to determine the legal and physical custody of a child or children. The parent and child relationship, including support obligations, extends equally to every child and to the every parent, regardless of the marital status of the parents.
A child's legal custodian has the right to determine the child's upbringing, including education, healthcare and religious upbringing. However, this right is not absolute and the court may limit the legal custodian's authority where necessary.
The "best interest of the child" is the standard for custody determinations. The emphasis in a custody determination is not on which parent is "better" or "worse," but on the child's best interests considering all relevant factors, including but not limited to: the wishes of the child's parent or parents as to custody; the wishes of the child; the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; whether there has been any violence or abuse or threat of such by the child's potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person.
No one factor is determinative as to whether one parent gets custody over the other, rather each factor is weighed and considered against all the others.
Children have a say in child custody issues, but their expressed wishes are not controlling. The custody preferences of mature children are given considerable weight, especially when they are based on the child's best interests, such as the desire to remain close to friends or to continue attending the same school. If the Judge thinks they want to live with one parent because that parent doesn't make them do homework or have a curfew it will carry no weight. The older a child gets the more influence they have. But it's not until a child is 18 that they can make the final decision.
If a parent wants to be involved with their child, sole custody is rare. Unless the court finds ongoing abuse, Illinois courts presume that the maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents regarding the physical, mental, moral, and emotional well-being of their child is in the best interest of the child.
The court may enter an order of joint custody if it determines that joint custody would be in the best interests of the child, taking into account the following: the ability of the parents to cooperate effectively and consistently in matters affecting the joint parenting of the child; the residential circumstances of each parent; and all other factors that may be relevant to the best interests of the child.
If the custodial parent wants to move out of state with the child he or she must obtain a court order, called a removal petition. Again, the court considers whether the proposed removal is in the best interest of the child by considering certain factors, such as the motives behind the proposed move. For example, if the custodial parent wants to move across the country just to keep the children away from the non-custodial parent as a form of punishment, the court will most likely deny the petition.
However, if the custodial parent wants to move across the country because he or she has a job lined up, family in the area, can show what school the child will attend in the area, and can demonstrate how the non-custodial parent will still be involved in the decision making process and still have visitation, the court may allow the custodial parent and the child to leave the state.
Every custody case should be decided based on the facts of that case and nothing else. We encourage you not to listen to non-attorneys who want to tell you what happened on their cases. If you have questions or would like an attorney referral please contact us at any time.