When divorcing from a spouse, nothing can be more contentious than child custody issues. Finding the best Chicago child custody attorney is critical to ensuring your parental rights are protected. There are some basic factors to consider when choosing a lawyer, as well as more specific criteria for choosing someone that is the best fit for your particular circumstances.
There are a number of different types of parenting arrangements that can be approved by the court, depending on the facts in your case. The most common is joint custody, which allows both parents to have significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. This can include decisions about healthcare, education, religious upbringing and other day-to-day activities. Your Chicago child custody attorney can help you draft a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children and you.
Another option is sole custody, in which one parent has primary decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. Generally, this only applies when the other parent is unfit to care for your children or has engaged in domestic violence or other harmful behavior. In rare cases, grandparents can be granted custody of their grandchildren if neither of the child’s parents want or can maintain custody. Your Chicago custody lawyer will help you decide what type of arrangement is the best for your family and fight on your behalf in court.
In most cases, the judge will determine what is in your child’s best interest when deciding how to allocate significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. In some states, such as Illinois, judges will also weigh the wishes of your child if they are deemed mature enough to express informed opinions. This is generally only considered if the child is over 14, although some judges have been known to listen to the desires of younger children, as long as they can articulate sound reasoning for their preferences.
When making these determinations, the judge will look at a number of factors, including each parent’s history of parenting, each party’s home and work environments, each parent’s ability to care for your child and other important personal details. They may also consider whether you or your former spouse has a criminal record that could impact their ability to be a positive influence on the child, or any allegations of abuse.
Once a court has determined a custody or visitation arrangement, it will rarely change the terms without a substantial change in circumstances. These changes can include a move to a new city or state, a job loss or re-location, a change in living conditions, an illness or disability that affects either parent’s ability to care for your child or any other issue that you believe would be in the best interests of your child.
Regardless of the type of custody you choose, it is important to find a compassionate Chicago child custody attorney who can provide the help you need. Contact the team at Davis and Associates to learn more about how they can help with your case.