Child Custody Lawyer in Palatine

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Child Custody Lawyer in Palatine

What was once nothing but a whistle stop on the Chicago and Northwestern Railway has become one of the largest communities in Chicagoland. Back in the whistle stop days, child custody matters were relatively straightforward. In the 1800s, women had very few legal rights in Illinois. Things are much different now. Today, the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parents, is the controlling principle.

The diligent Palatine child custody lawyers at Andrea Heckman Law work hard to stay on top of the latest family law changes in Illinois. That includes new laws and new court cases which interpret them. Our diligence helps us provide effective solutions for our clients. These solutions uphold the basic principles of the law without sacrificing your legal and financial rights.

Initial Determinations

Divorces, paternity actions, and stepparent adoptions are the most common initial child custody determination matters in Cook County. In many ways, they are the same. However, there are some substantial differences as well.

Divorce and paternity are especially similar. In fact, in many ways, a paternity order is like a non-property divorce order. Both these matters center on the aforementioned best interests rule.

Many mothers and fathers agree on broad questions. However, they disagree on timesharing specifics. Some factors to consider in this division include:

  • Parent’s wishes,
  • Child’s preferences,
  • Parenting patterns during the marriage (e.g. was there a “breadwinner” parent and a “caregiver” parent),
  • Prior domestic abuse,
  • Current informal arrangement, and
  • Agreements between the parties.

Stepparent adoptions are usually streamlined adoptions. Usually, the judge waives the social study and allows some other shortcuts. Legally, the stepparent replaces a biological parent. As a result, the biological parent loses all custody and visitation rights. Furthermore, if a biological parent and stepparent divorce, the stepparent must pay child support.

Frequently, biological parents do not agree to the termination of their parental rights. In these situations, our Palatine child custody lawyers often recommend name change orders. A name change does not have the same legal effect as an adoption. So, many reluctant parents agree with them. Furthermore, a name change order means that all members of the household have the same last name.

Subsequent Modifications

Generally, all aspects of an adoption are permanent. However, the child custody orders in divorce and paternity cases are subject to future modification. 

When circumstances change, it is always important to get changes in writing. Informal side agreements are unenforceable in family court. So, if one parent unilaterally decides the previous arrangement is better, the other parent has no legal recourse.

Legally, the judge will modify the child custody orders if circumstances materially, substantially, and permanently change.

Material changes usually involve the informal 20% rule. For example, if Junior spends 12 nights a month with Dad instead of 10, Dad should consider a legal modification. Substantial change is a lot like material change. But the S-word usually refers to non-overnight changes. Permanent does not mean forever. But it does mean long term.

As a rule of thumb, most child custody orders should be updated at least once every two or three years.

Connect with a Detail-Oriented Cook County Attorney

There are different child custody orders for different families. For a free consultation with an experienced child custody lawyer in Palatine, contact Andrea Heckman Law, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Will County and nearby jurisdictions.

Contact our office to arrange for a free initial consultation and review of your case.


Andrea Heckman

Managing Attorney

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Please contact our law office in Rolling Meadows for legal assistance with divorce, child custody, or visitation issues. We serve clients in the Chicago metropolitan area who need the help of an experienced and dedicated family law attorney.

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