Deciding Parental Responsibilities
By: M. Scott Gordon
Few issues are more contentious in a divorce than the allocation of parental responsibilities, formerly known as child custody. Although it would be ideal if parents could agree on a parenting plan, the reality is that sometimes agreement is not possible. If not, you need to face the possibility of a custody fight, which means you must be prepared.
Technically, Illinois law no longer recognizes the concepts of “custody” and “visitation” but has instead replaced them with “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” Nevertheless, the concept of custody continues to exist: changing legal terms hasn’t changed the reality on the ground. Even if you and your ex-spouse live near each other, a 50/50 time split will often not be possible.
The Best Interests of Your Child
Judges decide child custody issues based on your child’s best interests. But what does that mean, exactly? For one thing, it does not mean that Mom always gets the children. Instead, a judge must take a 360-degree view of the current situation based on the following factors:
After analyzing all of the factors, the judge will determine when you should have the children and for how long.
Building Your Case
If you are worried about custody, you should immediately begin finding evidence that child custody with you will be in your child’s best interest. To that end, many of our clients look for the following information:
Child custody disputes can get messy. Many of our clients are uncomfortable dredging up negative information about the other parent and presenting it to the court. However, a judge needs all relevant information to make a decision. If you and your lawyer do not present this information, who will?
Anticipating Criticisms of Your Parenting Skills
The other parent’s attorney will have no problem combing through your life history to find embarrassing or negative information to use against you. That is simply the nature of a custody fight. To put yourself in the best position to win, you need to anticipate any negative information and how you will mitigate it. For example:
By countering this negative information, you take a good deal of “sting” out of it. But it takes time to find evidence, so mention any negative information to your lawyer so you can begin countering it right away.
Are You Worried about a Custody Fight? Contact a Chicago Divorce Lawyer Today
Disputes around custody have not changed simply because Illinois replaced “custody” with “parental responsibilities.” If you are worried about who your children will live with, you should seek out legal help right away. The Chicago divorce lawyers at M. Scott Gordon & Associates are happy to meet with you. Please contact us for a free consultation.