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Our Attorneys Answer Your Questions About Custody And Visitation

Child custody proceedings are stressful, especially if you don’t know your rights or what to expect. The attorneys of Blacha Law Office, LLC are available to address your questions and concerns.

Below we answer some common questions about child custody, but you likely have other questions or a specific circumstance not addressed here. We invite you to call our law office at 630-283-1987 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.

What is the difference between physical custody and legal custody?

Physical custody is where the child lives. With joint physical custody, the child spends time in each household. Legal custody refers to decision-making about the child’s upbringing. If joint legal custody is awarded, both parents have a say in the child’s schooling, health matters and religious practices.

What do courts look at to determine custody?

The court considers many different factors, through a lens of what is in the best interests of the child. Those factors might include the ages of children and their needs, which parent has been the primary caregiver, the parents’ work schedules, how far apart they live, the mental health and fitness of each parent, extended family support, and any history of violence, abuse or addiction. In a contested custody proceeding, our lawyers can help you present the strongest case.

Custody does not have to be determined by a judge. If the parents can work out the terms of physical custody, visitation and legal custody (decision-making), the courts will generally defer to those out-of-court agreements.

How likely is it that one parent will get full custody?

The Illinois courts start with the presumption that both parents will share in raising the child. They rarely award “full custody” (sole custody) unless one parent is determined to be unfit. It is common for one parent to be named the primary or majority parent, but the other parent will almost always be awarded regular visitation (parenting time), as well as shared legal custody.

What makes a parent unfit for custody?

The courts are reluctant to take away custody rights. But a parent may be deemed unfit for physical custody on the basis of abandonment or neglect, child abuse, domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, serious mental health issues or criminal enterprise. If the parent has shown to be abusive or reckless, the court can restrict contact to supervised visitation.

Do moms have more rights than dads?

No, gender is not one of the criteria the Illinois courts apply when deciding custody. It’s true that mothers are more frequently awarded primary custody (especially of younger children), but that is because mothers are more often the primary caretaker. Dads have equal rights under the law but may need a good lawyer to assert those rights.

Can a father get sole custody or primary custody?

Absolutely. If the court determines that the dad offers a healthier and more stable and environment, or that the dad has been the primary caretaker, that father may get the majority of the parenting time. As mentioned above, a father would be awarded sole custody only if the court declares the mother to be unfit.

How is custody decided if the parents were never married?

Marriage has no bearing on custody rights. An unmarried father can be awarded primary custody or even sole custody. If the father was not involved in raising the child, he will have to establish paternity and petition for visitation or supervised visitation before he can seek a greater parenting role.

Do children have a say in custody?

The court will give some weight to the wishes of an older child who has a preference to live with one parent. But it is only one factor, and the judge ultimately decides. The court takes into account the child’s age, maturity and rationale.

We Are Ready To Answer Your Questions

We invite you to a free consultation to discuss your custody dispute or divorce. Call today at 630-283-1987 or use our online form to schedule a meeting. We have offices in Naperville, Joliet and Chicago, serving parents in DuPage, Cook, Kane, Kendall and Will counties. Fluent in Polish.