For the first time in history, most Illinois children do not live in “traditional” households that consist of a married mother and father along with their pure biological children. So, most families are blended families for which parenting time is an issue. That is especially true in bustling suburbs like Schaumburg.
At the Delaney Heckman, we focus exclusively on families in the Cook County and DuPage County areas. That focus gives us an edge in child custody proceedings. We know the law, and we know how to make it work for people like you. Perhaps more importantly, we are very familiar with all the local procedural rules. That includes the unwritten rules. That experience gives us an edge, as well, because your parenting time dispute is no place for on-the-job training.
Initial Parenting Time Orders in Schaumburg
Most child custody proceedings are part of a divorce process. This aspect of the case is quite different from issues like property division and spousal maintenance. In those areas, the financial interests of the parents usually take center stage. But in parenting time matters, the best interests of the children control.
Illinois judges have a great deal of discretion when it comes to determining best interests. Some prominent factors include:
- Status Quo: The old saying that “possession is nine-tenths of the law” is particularly applicable in parenting time disputes. Absent compelling evidence to the contrary, most judges prefer to keep the current arrangement in place. In other words, if Mother is the residential parent at the time of separation, there is a good chance she will also be the residential parent in the divorce order.
- Child’s Preference: Unlike some other states, Illinois does not have an age cutoff. It is not unusual for Cook County judges to place great weight in the preference of a 9-year-old and ignore the wishes of a 15-year-old.
- Home Environment: Verified abuse allegations almost always torpedo a child custody request, as does evidence of substance abuse in the home or some other physical danger. The court will also take into account the child’s emotional well-being.
That last bullet brings up an important point. Many Schaumburg parents work with “bulldog” family lawyers who are very aggressive. This strategy usually backfires. Illinois law presumes that children benefit from meaningful and consistent contact with both parents. Many judges think that if a parent is intransigent during court proceedings, that person will not be a good co-parent.
Modifying a Parenting Plan in Schaumburg
Families change constantly. So, the custody agreement usually needs to be modified at least once every three or four years. Sometimes the changes are relatively minor, such as a slightly different pickup time or a new drop-off location.
Even in seemingly minor matters like these, it is important to have parenting time orders legally modified. Side agreements, even if they are in writing, are unenforceable in Illinois family courts. If there is such an agreement in place, and one parent unilaterally decides to do something different, the other parent has no recourse.
If the modification is agreed, our Schaumburg attorneys can usually get the agreement approved without a hearing. If the modification is contested, the moving party must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and the proposed change is in the best interests of the child.
Some examples of changed circumstances might include the onset or removal of a parent’s disability, a physical relocation, or a new marriage.
Contact Experienced Lawyers
The parenting plan is a big part of your divorce order. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Schaumburg, contact the Delaney Heckman We routinely handle matters in DuPage County and nearby jurisdictions.