Whatever the reason, from child support disagreements to arguments over schools to issues with stepparents, if you are going to court due to issues related to custody of your children, you should do so with an attorney with extensive experience on your side. The Chicago child custody lawyers at Tommalieh Law are dedicated to doing everything possible to bring custody hearings to a close in a way to benefits our clients and their children. If you're ready to begin your custody journey, our family law attorneys are ready to help.
Different Types of Custody
There are two different kinds of custody, physical custody, and legal custody. Physical custody of a child is the time that a child is actually physically in your custody. Legal custody, however, refers to having legal decision-making authority for your child, such as picking out doctors or making medical decisions as needed. You may be given joint decision-making, or one parent may receive sole decision-making authority. These are not mutually exclusive, meaning that you may have partial physical custody with no legal custody, or you may have split legal custody and no physical custody due to any number of different circumstances.
There is a third type of custody that does not actually grant the parent actual custody called visitation. Visitation is normally reserved for parents who had custody removed for a certain reason. These reasons don't have to be inherently good or bad. For example, if you work a job that requires you to travel, you may not be able to have custody of your children. Instead, you would have visitation with your minor children whenever you are able to. Custody can also be refused and visitation offered in cases where one parent is involved in active addiction, or there are allegations or proof of spousal or child abuse.
Related Content: How is a Visitation Schedule Determined?
How is Child Custody and Visitation Determined in Illinois?
There are many factors that can decide the custody of children in Illinois. The state normally prefers for parents to work out custody on their own, through mediation, or through their attorneys. This is because not only is this method cheaper for everyone involved, but it is less traumatic for minor children.
If custody cannot be agreed on and the case must be heard by a judge, there are many factors the judge will look at to make their decision. Who was the primary caregiver of the children? Who has the time to properly care for the children? Who's home life is more stable? Was there domestic violence in the marital home? Is anyone suffering from mental illness that may make them unfit to care for the children?
Child custody issues can encompass a lot of information, and can sometimes take weeks or months, or even years to settle properly. A majority of custody disputes end with joint custody, or primary custody going to the primary caregiver and the other parents receiving every other weekend.
Can Grandparents Get Custody of a Child?
It is extremely rare that grandparents are awarded any kind of custody rights of their grandchildren, as parental rights are normally the only rights recognized by the court unless there are extenuating circumstances. These circumstances must be extremely serious, such as abuse, drug use, or active addiction by the child's parents. Grandparents can also apply for partial custody if one of the parents dies and they fear the surviving parent will no longer allow them to see their grandchildren.
If grandparents get custody of their grandchildren, that doesn't mean that you cannot regain custody of your children, whether it's partial or full custody. If your children were taken due to drug use or other addiction, the path to regaining custody from grandparents normally involves addiction treatment, drug testing, etc. In most cases like this, judges will give parents a list of tasks they must complete before regaining custody of their children.
These requirements can include time frames for being clean or sober, a certain number of passed drug tests, completed community service hours, holding onto a job, or even signing a lease on a house or apartment so the children will have a steady place to live.
If grandparents receive rights after the passing of their own child, it can be extremely hard to terminate these rights. In most cases, you would need to prove that the grandparents are unfit to care for the children. Normally this can be proven when the grandparents reach an age in which caring for a child becomes extremely hard.
Can You Modify Child Custody Orders?
Child custody can be modified at any time, as long as both parents are in agreement. If not then the custody changes will have to go through court and be approved or denied by a judge. Any number of reasons can be used to modify custody, from changing jobs to moving homes, or even at the request of the children.
In the best of cases, the parents can create and change their custody in the best interest of their children, through communication and co-parenting. Regardless of how parents feel about each other personally, many parents are able to put their own feelings aside to make choices together that are in the best interest of shared children.
Creating a parenting plan together, and sharing parental responsibilities in a way that works best for everyone and that everyone agrees to can help children adjust to their parent's divorce, and decrease stress and mental anguish.
When a custody issue can't be solved through co-parenting, this often leads to a custody battle. While all custody changes must be approved by the court, parental responsibilities agreed to in mediation simply need to be submitted to the court and approved, while cases that aren't able to be solved in mediation mean sharing your side and wishes with the court, and the court making an unbiased decision about custody.
Learn More: How Much Does a Child Custody Lawyer Cost?
Our Attorneys Can Help You With Custody Issues
Whether you need a mediator, or someone to stand beside you in court and help you fight for your children, you can trust that the legal team at Tommalieh Law will always put you and your children's best interests first. We've handled nearly every child custody matter possible, and have years of combined experience in the Cook County Family Courts. Call us today for a free consultation, we'll go over your case and what your perfect parenting plan is, and how to get there. The best time to start your journey is now. Whenever you're ready to start, we're ready to help you every step of the way.