Palatine Child Custody Attorney
Back when George Ela built a log cabin in the 1830s, starting what later would become Palatine, the American family was much different. For example, if a married couple divorced, the father always received custody of the children because women had essentially no legal or financial rights in those days. Today, when divorce happens, Cook County judges use a number of factors to determine the best interests of the child, and custody decisions are based on this principle.
At Andrea Heckman Law, we aggressively stand up for our clients’ rights in child custody cases. We know the law, and we know how to make it work for you. At the same time, our Palatine child custody attorneys also have excellent negotiating skills. So, we are often able to craft a favorable out-of-court settlement. Such resolutions avoid costly and divisive litigation that no one really wants.
Initial Determinations in Cook County
About 100 years after those log cabin days, courts developed the “tender years” doctrine. Fathers, it was believed, had no interest in parenting children, and even if they had the interest, they did not have the requisite skills. So, mothers almost always got custody. The tender years doctrine persisted, in some form, until the 1990s.
Today’s Illinois family laws encourage co-parenting. The presumption is that children benefit from meaningful and consistent contact with both parents. So, the law sets out a number of factors to consider in these circumstances, such as:
- Current Situation: Most parents are already separated by the time they go to divorce court, so a time-sharing arrangement is already in place. If that informal arrangement is working reasonably well, even if there are flaws, most judges prefer to leave well enough alone.
- Child’s Preference: This factor is not as important as some people believe. Judges have a great deal of discretion when it comes to accepting or rejecting a child’s preference. Furthermore, many children do not express a preference because they do not want to take sides.
- Prior Parenting Patterns: The gender-based roles mentioned above still persist in some families. So, if one parent filled the “breadwinner” role and took little interest in the children, it is difficult, but not impossible, for these people to win a custody dispute.
There are a number of other factors, as well. Most of them can go either way, with the notable exception of family violence. If there are verified allegations of abuse, even if the abuse happened many years ago, such allegations could torpedo a child custody claim.
Subsequent Modifications in Illinois
Just like initial determinations, subsequent modifications must also be in the child’s best interests. Sometimes, this determination is not easy to make.
Assume Mother, who is the residential custodian of two school-age children, receives a lucrative job offer in Alaska. Relocating there would definitely be in her best interests, but it may not be in the children’s best interests.
A mother’s Palatine child custody attorney must argue that the move would benefit the children. For example, perhaps the children will have a better lifestyle, or there are excellent schools and other facilities in Alaska. To block the move, a father’s Palatine child custody attorney could argue that the children must leave everything behind and effectively sever contact with the father, who still lives in Chicago.
Even highly-contested disputes like these usually settle out of court. In this example, Father might agree to the move if Mother agrees to substantially more holiday and summer visitation time.
Connect with a Dedicated Lawyer
Today’s Illinois laws encourage co-parenting in child custody matters. For a free consultation with an experienced child custody attorney in Palatine, contact Andrea Heckman Law. Convenient payment plans are available.