Hinsdale Child Custody Attorney
Assistance with Child Custody Matters
Child custody is undeniably one of the most critical aspects when parents go through a divorce. The outcome of the child custody agreement can significantly impact how your children are raised until they become independent adults. Moreover, it will also profoundly affect your own day-to-day life based on the frequency of your interactions with your children.
Given the tremendous importance of the child custody outcome, leaving it up to chance is not advisable. Seek legal assistance at the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. in Hinsdale for comprehensive support in your child custody case. Our team is experienced in handling such matters professionally and sensitively, ensuring that your case progresses correctly.
Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your case with our Hinsdale child custody attorneys!
Different Forms of Custody
Child custody can be established through various means and methods. Regardless of the form of custody established in your divorce, we can assist you in navigating the process.
Different types of child custody in Illinois include:
- Sole custody: When only one parent is deemed fit to raise and live with the child, the family law court assigns sole custody. This may also occur if the parents cannot agree on how to care for the child, such as decisions related to religion, education, and medical matters. The non-custodial parent can still express their opinions, but the final decision rests with the custodial parent. Sole custody is not preferred by the court, as it is generally recognized that children thrive with the involvement of both parents in their lives.
- Joint custody: If both parents in a divorce can cooperate and maintain civility in their interactions, joint custody is typically preferred. This arrangement allows parents to make important decisions together, including religious practices for the child. Disagreements may arise, requiring the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator to resolve conflicts.
Determining Child Custody in Illinois
To provide complete transparency, it is important to note that in Illinois, "child custody" is no longer the legally accurate term. In 2016, the state legislature replaced the concept of "custody" with "allocation of parental responsibilities" and "parenting time."
Nevertheless, the concept remains essentially the same. The objective is still to determine which parent will live with the children and make important decisions on their behalf.
Examples of significant decisions related to a child's care and upbringing include:
- Education: A parent with parental responsibilities can decide on the schooling and education their child will receive as they grow up.
- Healthcare: Decisions regarding a child's healthcare, such as dental care, psychological treatments, vaccinations, and more, hold great importance.
- Religion: If applicable, the parent with sole right to this parental responsibility can decide what religious practices the child will follow.
- Extracurricular activities: The parent can determine the child's participation in extracurricular activities like sports, arts, Scouts, etc.
Best Interests of the Child
Any decision involving a child in a divorce or family law proceeding must prioritize the "best interests of the child." This means the court must consider what the child needs above all else, placing the parents' desires or preferences in a secondary position. If the child custody agreement proposed by you and your spouse is not in the child's best interests, the court can reject it.
To determine the best interests of the child, the court may consider factors such as:
- The child's expressed preferences (if the child is old enough to do so).
- The child's historical needs.
- The child's interests and typical extracurricular activities.
- Each parent's interaction with the child.
Our Hinsdale child custody lawyers are here to discuss your child's best interests and how they should be reflected in the child custody agreement. The court generally favors an equal split of custody or parental rights and visitation, so we typically begin from this perspective.
Parenting Time & Child Custody
The amount of parental time, also known as visitation, that you are permitted after a divorce depends on the child custody agreement. For instance, if you do not have parental custody rights, you may be granted more parenting time to compensate.
The determination of parenting time is specific to each child custody case. Illinois family law courts do not utilize a preset guide for setting parenting time due to the unique circumstances of each case. By default, the court expects a "shared custody" agreement that allows both parents to spend time with and see the child. However, shared custody does not necessarily mean a 50-50 split of time.
When creating parenting time agreements, consider factors such as:
- 1. Daily, weekly, and monthly schedules.
- 2. School year schedules.
- 3. Summer schedules.
- 4. Holiday schedules.
Child Custody Mistakes
While there are several actions you should take during a child custody case, there are also things to avoid.
Five things to steer clear of in a child custody case are:
- Not hiring a lawyer: If possible, it is advisable to engage the services of a child custody attorney. Having a legal professional leading the way and advocating on your behalf simplifies the entire process.
- Being intentionally uncooperative: Engaging in unnecessary conflicts with your spouse over child custody rights is not in your best interest. Cooperation benefits all parties involved and demonstrates to the court that you are a reasonable person deserving of parental rights.
- Interfering with your spouse's relationship with the children: Never attempt to hinder your spouse's relationship with your ex-spouse, particularly in ways that violate a court order. Violating court orders can lead to serious consequences, including fines and potential jail time.
- Speaking negatively about your spouse: Speaking ill of your spouse or ex reflects poorly on your own character and behavior. Remember that the court seeks to award parental rights to individuals who demonstrate their ability to be good parents to their children.
- Allowing anger to dictate your actions: Although challenging, it is crucial to remain calm and composed throughout the child custody case. Losing your temper and becoming angry can raise red flags in the eyes of the court.
MerelFounder and Managing PrincipalJonathan Merel is an experienced attorney who advocates for his clients in all divorce and family law proceedings, including settlement negotiations and trials. Jonathan founded the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. in early 2009 after working for many ...
Caballero DunnManaging PartnerTo clients, Melissa Caballero Dunn is “the best” and a “rare” family attorney. To our firm, she is the engine that keeps us running a smooth operation. As Managing Partner, The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel relies on Melissa to know what's around every ...
DelgadoPartnerKatherine “Kat” Delgado counsels her family law clients with knowledge and compassion throughout their cases, including during settlement negotiations, in court, and in other adversarial settings throughout litigation. Her goal with every client is to ...
DeSanaPartnerJackie is a skilled and compassionate attorney who is dedicated to helping her clients navigate difficult situations. Jackie graduated from Wayne State University in 2012 where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Jackie continued her ...
FitzpatrickPartnerAurelija Fitzpatrick believes that a large part of her job is being a problem solver. She also understands that people are often misunderstood. Aurelija has a unique ability to collaborate with family law clients by listening to her client's concerns, ...
KayePartnerBrad Kaye is a divorce and family law attorney who knows how to win. His clients rave about his preparation and support as their divorce attorney . Brad gives his clients confidence in court, whether it's with a professional athlete, music industry ...
MargasonPartnerCharacterized by her ability to navigate the always diverse circumstances of family law cases, Ashley Margason is a trusted family law attorney with a reputation for extensive knowledge and efficiency. A client’s family law needs are unique. Every case is ...
McSurleyPartnerWilliam’s demonstrated ability to exploit all aspects of the legal process to his client’s advantage has helped divorce clients avoid costly litigation altogether, or prevail when such conflicts cannot be avoided. William places an emphasis on using his ...
NortonPartnerJosie graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Psychology (2013). Josie continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law (2017), where she was named to the Dean’s List and earned a Certificate in ...
TararaPartnerAnnemarie Tarara is on the cutting edge of LGBTQ+ family law issues such as second-parent adoptions and the dissolution of same-sex marriages, civil unions, & domestic partnerships. She also represents clients in obtaining orders of protection and in ...
ZwaskaPartnerDavid Zwaska is an experienced litigator who makes the law digestible for family law clients every step of the way. Sure, Dave has the awards and resume that make him look like a great attorney to hire, including clerking for the Honorable Judge Raul Vega ...
BerndtAssociateKelsey graduated from Michigan State University in 2018 with her Bachelor's in Social Relations & Policy and Women's & Gender Studies, where she found a passion for advocating on the behalf of those in need. Kelsey then attended Penn State Law, receiving ...
BroekemaAssociateMarleena graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Theory and Women’s Studies. Marleena continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law in 2018, where she earned a certificate in ...
CashAssociateJeffrey Cash has focused his practice exclusively in the area of family law since 2014 and has represented individuals in all aspects of family law matters, including divorce , paternity, the allocation of parental responsibilities , parenting time, child ...
DeanAssociateMitchell graduated from the University of Iowa in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a Minor in Political Science. Thereafter, Mitchell attended DePaul University College of Law, graduating in May 2021 with a Certificate in Business Law. While ...
Hartrum IVAssociateLaude’s approach to family law is both comprehensive and client-centered. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2017 and DePaul University College of Law in 2020, Laude was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 2021. During law school, Laude ...
LeeuwenburgAssociateCora attended Loyola University School of Law and practiced as a 711 student-attorney with the school’s Community Law Clinic where she gained experience as a Guardian ad Litem representing children in court. Cora has always been interested in family law ...
RyterskiAssociateBorn in Rochester, Michigan, Paige obtained her Paralegal Certificate and Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration in her hometown. By the time she was 21, Paige was finished with college and working as a Paralegal for a Criminal Defense firm in ...
TrabarisAssociateWill is devoted to guiding his clients through the difficult waters of divorce and other family law proceedings. Will knows that this process can be emotionally taxing and complex, so he prides himself on being a steady hand – as well as a clear head – ...
I didn't initially hire him. Worst decision made!
Do not let the stress of deciding child custody overwhelm you any longer. Discover how stress-free the process can be by partnering with the Hinsdale child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. With our extensive collective experience in family law disputes, you can trust that we will guide you, your spouse, and your children toward the best possible outcome.