Skokie Child Custody Attorneys

Securing a Happy Future for Your Child

Are you going through a divorce and are worried about how it is going to affect your child or children? The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. in Skokie can help. We have a team of child custody attorneys who know the ins and outs of Illinois parental responsibility and parenting time rules and expectations. When we are leading the way, you can feel better about how the future will look for you and your child after a divorce changes the dynamics of your family.

Request an initial consultation with our firm. Call (312) 487-2795 at any time to speak with a Skokie child custody attorney.

How Illinois Decides Child Custody

In 2016, the Illinois legislature adjusted the terminology for child custody and visitation a bit. It is now called the “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time,” but most parties still say child custody and visitation. Even though the names are different, though, the basis of the rules is mostly unchanged. If you are given parenting time rights, then you can spend time or live with your child after a divorce or separation. If you have parental responsibilities, then you can help decide important life decisions for your child.

Four important decisions that are decided through the allocation of parental rights are:

  • Education: Where your child will receive an education, such as preschool, elementary school, and high school.
  • Healthcare: What sort of medical treatment and routine care your child will receive, such as dental care and vaccinations.
  • Religion: What religious practices your child will follow if any, such as attending church each Sunday.
  • Extracurricular activities: What recreational or social activities your child will participate in, such as afterschool sports, art programs, summer camps, and so on.

Types of Child Custody

Child custody can be established in one of many ways, depending on the specifics of a case. In Illinois, though, there are generally only two recognized forms of child custody: sole and joint custody. Our attorneys can work on child custody cases that involve either type of custody, so you do not need to worry about those details.

Let us know if you are trying to accomplish:

  • Joint custody: When both parents maintain parental rights and responsibilities over a child after a divorce, they have joint custody. Illinois family law courts prefer to establish joint custody agreements if possible because it is understood that children develop more healthily when they do not feel separated from one of their parental figures.
  • Sole custody: If the court doesn’t think one parent is fit to raise or care for their child, then it will grant the other parent sole custody. A sole custody agreement for the allocation of parental responsibilities can also be established if both parents cannot agree upon issues like healthcare, religion, education, etc.

Always Acting in the Child’s Best Interests

No matter what details go into a child custody case, one thing remains true: the final decision must prioritize the child’s best interests. You and your spouse might have ideas about what you want in terms of parental responsibilities and parenting time, but, ultimately, the outcome must benefit the child first and foremost.

A child’s best interests can be assessed by considering the child’s:

  • Day-to-day activities and interests
  • Medical and special needs
  • Relationship with each parent.
  • Decision to live with one parent or another (only for older children).

If the court thinks that you have drafted a child custody agreement that is not beneficial enough to the child, then it can override it. To avoid this issue, you should work with our Skokie child custody attorneys from the start. We can help figure out a child custody plan that works for everyone, especially your child.

Visitation & Parenting Time

As mentioned, “visitation” is now called “parenting time” in Illinois. Parenting time allows a parent to spend time and/or live with their child. For example, if you do not live with your child regularly, you might be given parenting time to see them each or every other weekend. The court will want to make a parenting plan that helps everyone stay connected, so the family unit does not fall apart just because of divorce.

You will have to consider the following when making a parenting time plan:

  • Regular days, weeks, and months
  • Holidays
  • Summer breaks
  • School days

We have decades of collective legal experience working on child custody and parenting time cases. If you are not sure how to make a schedule, then we would be happy to use our insight to help you create one.

Common Child Custody Case Mistakes

When you are working with our Skokie child custody lawyers, we will be there to guide you through the case as it progresses. We will show you what to do and what not to do, so you never feel like you are guessing.

In a child custody case, many parents make these avoidable mistakes:

  • Trying to handle the case without a lawyer: First, you should always hire a family law attorney to help with your case. There will be questions and concerns that you simply will not be able to answer on your own. Do not risk making a mistake because you did not have a lawyer by your side, especially when the outcome of your case will impact your child’s livelihood.
  • Refusing to cooperate with your spouse: You will only make things difficult for yourself and your children if you refuse to cooperate with your spouse or ex during a child custody contest. Try to stay amicable and reasonable. You will appreciate it, too.
  • Making it difficult for your spouse to spend time with your children: If your ex-spouse has the right to see and be with your children, then you must allow it. Do not interfere or make things difficult for them. Doing so could be a criminal violation if it goes against a court order. Also, it will make the divorce more painful for your child.
  • Badmouthing your spouse: Talking badly about your spouse will eventually get back to them, and they will want to make things more difficult for you in return. Do not badmouth your spouse just for the sake of insulting them.
  • Getting angry or violent: The court will only want to give you parental rights if you can show that you will be a good parent. If you have angry or violent outbursts during the child custody case, then you will be working directly against your chances of getting parental rights.

See How Our Law Firm Can Help Your Family

Let’s work on keeping you in the lives of your children after a divorce. With the help of our Skokie child custody attorneys, you can create a parenting plan that works for you and protects your child’s best interests. We take the stress out of family law cases for our clients, as we have done for many, many years. Let us do the same for you, too.

Contact us onlineto find out more information about child custody in Illinois.

Child Custody FAQ

What is parental alienation? 

When one parent of divorce attempts to make their child dislike or detest the other spouse, it is called parental alienation. If you suspect your ex-spouse is trying to alienate you from your child, tell our firm right away. We can help you get court intervention to stop the alienation.

Do I have to pay child support if I also have equal or majority parenting time? 

Child support is based on the income of both parents and how much responsibility each parent has over the child. Under this system, you could still be required to pay child support to your ex-spouse if you were given an equal or majority amount of parenting time.

Can I ask for sole custody of my child later? 

Yes, you can petition the court to give you sole custody of your child after your divorce concludes and another child custody order has been issued. You will have to prove that there is an important reason for this major change. This process is difficult, so you should always proceed with the help of an attorney.

How is child custody decided for parents who never got married? 

When an unmarried couple separates, deciding child custody can be more difficult than usual. Paternity might need to be established using a DNA test. The court might also be called upon to decide who should have parental rights based on their relationship with the child.

What is a guardian ad litem in a child custody case? 

A family law court might have many questions about a child’s best interests that cannot be answered by the parents due to conflicts of interests. To solve this problem, the court can appoint a guardian ad litem who then observes the child with each parent and in day-to-day situations. The guardian ad litem will make a report to give to the court, which is then used to help make child custody decisions.

Can I move while sharing custody rights? 

Either parent can move after custody rights have been established, but they must first notify the other spouse and get their permission. If the other spouse rejects the relocation proposal, then the case will have to go to court or mediation.

  • “They were thorough, thoughtful, respectful and always acted with my interests at heart.”

    - Former Client
  • “There was never any doubt that [Melissa] was on my side”

    - Previous Client
  • “Jonathan Merel was an excellent advisor who had my best interest in mind”

    - Tiffany
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