The practice of family law is different than every other practice area of the law because of what is ultimately at stake. For most people, the divorce is not about their house or car, it is about their most precious asset-their children. The thought of fighting a custody “battle” can be a daunting one. A fight for custody is often the biggest source of litigation in a divorce or parentage case. It also can be the biggest source of stress, be financially draining and worst of all, damage your relationship with your children.
Parents often forget that long after the custody dispute is over, they will still be raising their children with the other parent. To minimize the negative effects of a custody dispute, the experienced Chicago Custody Attorneys of the Integrity Law Group, LLC always explore settling your custody case. But what happens if this is not an option? You need an experienced and aggressive Chicago Custody Attorney to help you navigate the custody process as efficiently and effectively as possible. Call 773-278-9200 to speak with an experienced Custody Attorney today for a free consultation.
What is the Custody Process?
The Custody Attorneys at the Integrity Law Group, LLC are experienced in guiding clients through all aspects of the Custody process. Here is what you can expect to see in a Chicago Custody dispute:
Emergency Custody Hearing
Do you need immediate action? Kidnapping, physical or mental abuse of the children, drug or alcohol abuse by a parent are typical reasons why you need to get custody of your children quickly. The Custody Attorneys at The Integrity Law Group will help you file your case and emergency motion, locate the other parent with our in-house detective, and bring everyone into court for your emergency hearing.
Mediation and Parenting Class
If you do not have an agreement on all issues involving child, the court will send you to mandatory mediation where you will sit down with a mediator and the other parent to resolve part, all or none of your issues. The court will, whether or not you have a full agreement, order you to complete a parenting class. If you have a Cook County case, you can take the parenting class online at: http://online.divorce-education.com/
Best Interest of the Child
What do the courts use for determining custody? The statute in question is 750 ILCS 5/602 which is:
Best Interest of Child.
(a) The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interest of the child. The court shall consider all relevant factors including:
(1) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to his custody;
(2) the wishes of the child as to his custodian;
(3) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
(4) the child’s adjustment to his home, school and community;
(5) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
(6) the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person;
(7) the occurrence of ongoing or repeated abuse as defined in Section 103 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, whether directed against the child or directed against another person;
(8) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
(9) whether one of the parents is a sex offender; and
(10) the terms of a parent’s military family-care plan that a parent must complete before deployment if a parent is a member of the United States Armed Forces who is being deployed.
In the case of a custody proceeding in which a stepparent has standing under Section 601, it is presumed to be in the best interest of the minor child that the natural parent have the custody of the minor child unless the presumption is rebutted by the stepparent.
(b) The court shall not consider conduct of a present or proposed custodian that does not affect his relationship to the child.
(c) Unless the court finds the occurrence of ongoing abuse as defined in Section 103 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, the court shall presume that the maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents regarding the physical, mental, moral, and emotional well-being of their child is in the best interest of the child. There shall be no presumption in favor of or against joint custody.
Child Representative, Guardian ad Litem and Attorney for the Child
In most cases where the custody of the children is at issue, the court will appoint a child’s representative, guardian ad litem or attorney for the child with the type of appointment
dependent on the facts and circumstances of each case. At this point, the appointed attorney, will often interview the parents and the children, and advocate for the children’s best interest.
The court may also order a 750 ILCS 5/604(b) evaluation. A child psychologist or psychiatrist is usually appointed to evaluate you, the other parent, the child and or any significant others involved in the child’s life. They will interview, look at documents and other evidence and with a neutral position and then write a report with recommendations to the court on what in their expert opinion is in the best interest of the child.
Finally, if your custody case has not settled you will have a custody trial before a Judge. Witnesses, the other parent and most importantly you will get to tell the Judge why you think it is in your child’s best interest that you should be granted custody.
What is your next step?
If you are here reading this, you are probably not a lawyer, and hopefully, have not gone through this before. Despite what your friend, sister or other relative might be telling you based on their experience, you should begin with consulting an experienced Chicago Custody Lawyer. The attorneys of the Integrity Law Group, LLC can listen to you, help you find your goals and then make a plan to get you reach those goals. Contact us today at 773-278-9200 for a free consultation!