Child Custody Attorney in Arlington Heights
Like most moms and dads, parents in Arlington Heights want to provide a good home for their children, both financially and emotionally. The court system should facilitate these things and not interfere with them. So, initial child custody determinations involve both financial and emotional issues. Later on, the onus is usually on the parents to ensure that the court orders are as up-to-date as possible. An outdated court order does much more harm than good.
Whether you need to set up initial court orders or modify the ones in existence, you need a dedicated Arlington Heights child custody attorney from Andrea Heckman Law on your side. We begin each case with a long conversation, so we know your needs and goals in a certain situation. Then, once we develop a plan of action with you, we fight to create an environment that is safe and secure for your children.
As mentioned, most parents want what is best for their children, even if the parents are dissolving their marriage or have never been married. However, although many parents agree on this broad, general principle, they disagree about the specifics.
To help resolve these disputes, and transform a rather vague concept like the best interests of the children into concrete provisions, Illinois law sets out a number of factors to help judges determine the best interests of the children. These factors include:
- Child’s Preference: Illinois law gives judges almost unfettered discretion in this area. Depending on the facts, such as the child’s maturity and evidence of parental arm-twisting, a judge may uphold the custody/visitation preference of a 12-year-old and refuse to listen to an 18-year-old.
- Parent’s Preference: Many parents do not even know they are expressing a custody preference. But they are doing so, every time they volunteer for carpool duty or do not attend a piano recital. Usually, leopards do not change their spots in these situations.
- Status Quo: Usually, by the time a parent files a divorce or paternity action, an informal timesharing arrangement has been in place for weeks, months, or even years. If this informal arrangement is workable but flawed, most judges would rather address those flaws than reinvent the wheel.
Since these things change over time, especially the children’s preferences, these same basic factors apply in subsequent modification proceedings. More on that below.
Modifications also feature the same overall presumption as initial determinations. In most cases, children benefit from frequent, consistent, and meaningful contact with both parents. Parental fitness questions, such as the onset or removal of a disability or a family violence issue, are the two most powerful ways to rebut this presumption.
Judges reconsider the child custody factors if the relevant circumstances have materially and substantially changed. Relocations are a good example. For various reasons, most people move frequently. Judges generally allow residential parents to relocate with their minor children as long as the relocation is in the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parent.
We mentioned emotional changes above. Some children feel closer to different parents at different points of their lives. Permanence is sometimes an issue in these matters. Although permanence does not mean forever in this context, it does mean a long-term change. Frequently, this emotional gravitation comes and go.
Good faith is also an important component of any modification matter. Judges often consider both the moving parent’s motivation in bringing the action as well as the non-moving parent’s motivation to oppose it.
Connect With a Dedicated Cook County Attorney
Child custody provisions are arguably the most important component of a family law order. For a free consultation with an experienced child custody attorney in Arlington Heights, contact Andrea Heckman Law, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Will County and nearby jurisdictions.