Under Illinois law, parenting time and child custody matters must always be decided in the best interests of the children. Pretty much all parents want the best for their children. Though they agree on this general principle, they often disagree about the specifics. Additionally, there is a difference between the best interests of the parents and the best interests of the children. One does not necessarily follow the other.
At The Delaney Heckman, we understand how all these things come together. We also never lose sight of our paramount goal, which is protecting your legal and financial rights. Over the years, we have developed proven methods in child custody matters. We offer creative, long term, and cost-effective solutions that are also minimally disruptive. An outcome like that truly is in everyone’s best interests.
Initial Child Custody Determinations in Hoffman Estates
Typically, divorce is a very disruptive process, especially for children. So, family law judges like to maintain as much consistency as possible. This attitude permeates most parenting time division issues, beginning at the temporary hearing.
There is an old saying that “possession is nine-tenths of the law.” Typically, the judge appoints a residential custodian a few weeks after a party files for divorce. The other parent receives visitation privileges. Unless something earth-shattering occurs during the divorce process, the temporary residential custodian usually becomes the permanent residential custodian. So, assertive representation right from the beginning is critical. Unfortunately, some parents try to wait and see how things unfold. If that happens, they must play from behind for the rest of the game.
Some parents go the opposite way. They understand how important the temporary hearing is. So, they work with overly-aggressive “bulldog” lawyers who never compromise and fight over every minute issue. Most judges assume that parents who are combative under court supervision will be even more combative when that supervision ends. In other words, they will be bad co-parents. That label works against parents and not for them.
Generally, the parents agree on the initial determination, or at least in most aspects. Therefore, the judge has a rather limited role at this point.
Subsequent Parenting Time Determinations in Hoffman Estates
The judge’s role expands significantly after the temporary hearing. While the preliminary orders are often a blueprint for the final orders, there is still a long way to go.
If parenting time issues are contested, judges usually order social services investigations and mediation. A state social worker interviews the parents and children, talks to other witnesses, and reviews medical, school, and other records. Based on all this evidence, the social worker makes a parenting time recommendation. These suggestions are not binding, but most judges give them considerable weight.
During mediation, a third-party mediator, who is normally an unaffiliated family law attorney or a retired judge, works to forge a settlement agreement. After each side gives a brief opening statement, they trade settlement offers and counteroffers. It is not possible to compromise on the residential/non-residential parent designation. But Illinois law is flexible in terms of the overnight share. Many arrangements are about 70-30, while others are much closer to 50-50.
Contact an Assertive Lawyer
Child custody determinations must be in the child’s best interests. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Hoffman Estates, contact The Delaney Heckman Convenient payment plans are available.