Arlington Heights Child Custody Lawyers
The American family has changed significantly over the last 70 years, and so have Illinois child custody laws. For many years, the tender year’s doctrine dominated child custody decisions. Children of tender years (young children) almost always went with their mothers, and fathers received only limited visitation rights. Things changed a little with the advent of joint custody laws in the 1970s. Things changed even more when co-parenting laws appeared in the early 2000s. Today, there is a presumption that children benefit from frequent and meaningful contact with both parents.
Custody laws might have changed, but the methods our Arlington Heights child custody lawyers use remain largely the same. At the Andrea Heckman Law, we believe in old-fashioned values, like hard work, attention to detail, and proactive communication. We also believe in aggressively standing up for your legal and financial rights. That means we are sometimes willing to compromise, and we are always willing to fight for you.
Child Custody Factors
All these decisions must be in the best interests of the children. Frequently, parents agree with this broad, general principle, but they disagree on the details. When that disagreement happens, our Arlington Heights child custody lawyers look to a number of factors listed in Illinois law. Some important ones include:
- Agreements Between the Parties: This first bullet might be one of the most important child custody factors in Illinois. Provided they uphold most of the other statutory factors, most judges approve most out-of-court settlements. In the eyes of many Cook County family law judges, an imperfect settlement agreement is better than an emotional trial.
- Emotional Ties: Some children feel closer to their mothers than their fathers, and vice versa. Also, not all blended family siblings get along as well as the Brady Bunch kids. Since emotional ties change over time, this factor is often more important in modifications than it is in original determinations.
- Parent’s Wishes: This factor may seem odd, but it incorporates the best interests of the children. Some parents do not have the skills or willingness to be residential custodians. Other parents are contentious and argumentative. These individuals usually do not make good co-parents, so they are often relegated to nonresidential status.
- Domestic Violence: If the children witnessed the violence, this factor is often a dealbreaker. If the violence occurred in a different context, such as in a previous marriage, it is usually just another factor to consider. Bear in mind that domestic violence could be physical, verbal, or emotional.
Other factors include the child’s preference, if any, the desirability of consistency (i.e. maintaining the current parenting time division), and a social worker’s recommendation.
Resolving Child Custody Disputes
The outcome of a social services investigation often greatly affects the outcome. The results of these investigations are not binding, but most judges give them considerable weight.
Once the social service investigation is complete, most parents can agree on a parenting time division. Sometimes, this division includes some outside-the-box plans, such as:
- Empty Nest: Normally, the children swap residences, and the parents stay put. This arrangement flips that pattern. The children stay in the same place, which is usually the family home, and the parents swap residences.
- Extended Weekend: Beginning weekend visitations on Thursdays instead of Fridays and ending them on Mondays instead of Sundays creates a much more even timesharing division that is also not too disruptive.
- Block Scheduling: Most parenting time plans are based on complex every-other-weekend exchanges. Alternatively, children can spend two weeks with Parent A, two weeks with Parent B, and the cycle repeats. This pattern stays in place most of the year.
If the parties cannot work things out between themselves, many Cook County judges appoint third-party mediators. These individuals, who are usually unaffiliated Arlington Heights child custody lawyers, know how to forge lasting agreements.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer
Child custody divisions must be in the best interests of the children. For a free consultation with an experienced Arlington Heights child custody lawyer, contact the Andrea Heckman Law We routinely handle matters in Cook County and nearby jurisdictions.