Child custody is the most hotly contested term in any divorce that involves a child. If both parents want to claim custody of the child, the court has to get involved and decide what would be best for the child in the scenario and grant custody accordingly.
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In any child custody case, the judge will look at a plethora of factors that will affect the child if custody goes to either parent. The courts and judges in custody cases are only supposed to have the child’s best interest at heart and make the decision that would favor the child in every way possible.
A number of factors are looked at when making the decision for the child’s life. In Illinois, no longer is the decision tipped in the mother’s favor, by virtue of her gender. The judge’s decision is unbiased of any such factors, and objectively looks at all the factors to decide who would prove to be the better parent for the child.
In Illinois, the term child custody is being removed from the legal dictionaries and replaced with a much more appropriate term, parental responsibilities. Going by past records, the courts in Illinois prefer to grant joint custody or equal parental responsibility to each parent to ensure that the child has the guidance and presence of both his parents.
Of course, if either parent is deemed to be an unfit parent and poses a threat to the child’s physical, emotional or mental health, the court will deny that particular parent custody and grant sole custody or full parental responsibility to the other parent.
How to Win Child Custody
The court would look at what you can do for the children and how you can be a healthy influence on them, fulfill all their emotional, financial needs, and provide the best parenting to them possible.
A lot depends on the presentation, so make sure to dress well in court. It will show that you are dedicated to getting custody of your child and are emotionally invested in the decision. Discuss what you have to say with your lawyer and practice it beforehand. You and your lawyer must be equipped with all supportive and evidentiary documents for your claims.
To be given sole or joint custody of the child, you must prove that you are:
A Fit Parent
The criteria for being regarded as an unfit parent is listed above. Only proving the other parent is not enough. You must also prove that you are fit to be the parent to your child. You must prove that you do not have a record of substance abuse or neglect and that you never have nor will ever subject the child to any abuse or danger.
While many parents are emotionally invested in their child’s custody, the courts also have to look at financial stability. If they are granting one parent full custody or primary custody, the parent must have the financial means to support the child, paying for their school fee, and for hospitals and emergencies.
Can Provide Proper housing
A good house in a suitable neighborhood is important. If either parent cannot provide a proper housing facility, separate rooms, and other basic amenities to the child, the courts would probably hesitate in giving them primary custody.
Mentally and Emotionally Fit
The parent must be emotionally and mentally fit to raise a child. Bringing up children is an emotionally draining job, and the courts will determine if you are mentally healthy and emotionally stable enough to provide the child with the love, care, and security that he needs.
How to Win Sole Custody of the Child
If you are aiming to gain sole custody, or full parental responsibility, of the child, you need to prove that the other person would be an unfit parent and a bad influence on the child’s health, development, and upbringing. If such accusations are proven in court, you may be granted full custody of your child.
To prove a parent unfit in a court of law in Illinois, the following criteria must be met.
- There is substance abuse involved.
- Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse involved.
- There has been a proven history of neglect
- One parent has been convicted of a crime or felony
- Failure to protect the child from danger
Of course, you would have to prove these allegations too. Any documentation, medical record, legal papers, pictures, videos, emails, or bills can be used to prove these things to a judge and make the court consider giving such an unfit person custody of a child.
Children Have a Say
In Illinois, the court does not really want to get children involved in the court proceedings and prefers that their wishes be expressed through the attorney or other source so as not to expose them to the courtrooms. Children who are mature enough to form a preference and a coherent reason for it are often heard by the court, though the decision does not solely depend on the child’s wishes.
Children over the age of 16 are taken more seriously in such cases. If the child expresses that they would prefer living with either parent for a legitimate reason, the court would be obliged to take that into account.
Remember that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time, and sole custody does not mean that the non-custodial parent does not get any time at all with their children (unless the parent is proven to be an unfit parent. How much physical time each parent can have with their child is detailed in the parenting plan that is drafted and agreed upon by both the parents and reviewed and approved by the judge.
Hire a Strong Attorney
Divorces are hard enough on their own, but if there are children involved, they become ten times more complicated and messy. Child custody cases can also be long and drawn-out if the parents can’t come to an agreement about how to share parental responsibility amongst themselves. There are certainly a lot of emotions involved in such cases, and it is best to have a clear, informed, and objective family lawyer to help you through this. Not only will they assist you in the necessary paperwork and legal formalities, but they will also answer your confusions and questions, prepare you for your court appearance and help you get the best out of the case. Contact Tommalieh Law today to schedule your FREE consultation.