Child Custody Attorney Near Me
The American family has changed a lot since the 1970s, which until recently was the last time Illinois lawmakers substantially updated the state’s family laws. So, in 2016, decision-makers approved the so-called “Modern Family” law. Many things are now different, but other things are the same. It is important that a child custody attorney near you understand all these changes. Your child custody matter is no time for on-the-job training.
At Andrea Heckman Law, we are committed to your family’s well-being, regardless of its shape, size, location, or configuration. We are also committed to preserving your legal and financial rights during a divorce, paternity, or other family law proceeding. These dual commitments, in addition to our strong work ethic, often produce results that exceed our clients’ expectations.
Initial Determinations in Cook County
The emphasis on co-parenting is one of the biggest changes. There is an assumption that children benefit from meaningful and consistent contact with both parents. As a result, the old “custodial” and “non-custodial” designations are gone. Children do not “live” with one parent and “visit” another one. Both parents are expected to actively participate in their children’s lives.
Nevertheless, children must still have a primary residence, at least in most cases. Some factors involved in this determination include:
- Any special needs,
- Age of the children,
- Prior parenting time division (i.e., was there a “caregiver” spouse and a “breadwinner” spouse),
- Child’s preference, if any,
- Parent’s preference, if any, and
- Any history of domestic violence.
All these factors are equal, except for the last one. If a parent has a family violence conviction, it is almost impossible to win a custody fight. In fact, many judges sharply limit parent-child contact in these cases.
Paternity and non-divorce child custody disputes work a bit differently. Procedurally, they are the same. There is a very strong presumption that the parent who currently has custody should keep it.
Subsequent Modifications in Illinois
Circumstances change frequently. Job change and resident relocation are probably two of the most prominent changes. When circumstances change, it is often necessary to re-evaluate the existing child custody provisions.
In these cases, many people make informal side agreements. It is good to talk out issues like these, and it is good to come to a mutual agreement. But these side agreements are never enforceable in family court. So, when one parent unilaterally decides to go back to the way things were, the other parent has no recourse.
Short-distance moves usually follow an expedited modification track. More complex matters usually involve a redetermination of the child’s best interests. This determination involves the same factors mentioned above. Significantly, there is a big difference between the best interests of the children and the best interests of the parents.
If the parents cannot agree on either an initial determination or subsequent modification, the matter usually goes to mediation. Only a small percentage of these cases actually go to court. Pretrial settlements resolve almost all child custody disputes.
Connect with an Assertive Lawyer
Both complex and simple child custody disputes usually settle out of court. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Rolling Meadows, contact Andrea Heckman Law. Convenient payment plans are available.