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Markham Parenting Time LawyerThe two main components of child custody in Illinois are "parental responsibilities" and "parenting time." Parental responsibilities involve the big decisions in a child's life, such as education, religion, and medical care. Parenting time is simply the time each parent spends with the child. Parents can either share these responsibilities and parenting time, or one parent can have sole responsibility for the child. If parents cannot agree on parental responsibilities and parenting time, the court will make a judgment based on what is in the child's best interests.

Factors Considered by Illinois Courts in Determining Child Custody

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act lists several factors that courts must consider when making a child custody determination. These include:

  • The desires of the child's parents regarding custody and parenting time

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will county parentage lawyerWhile same-sex marriage has been recognized in Illinois for some time now, parentage issues for same-sex spouses are an evolving area of law. Illinois is among the first states to offer same-sex spouses the same presumption of parentage that opposite-sex spouses have long enjoyed. In opposite-sex marriage, a child born to the wife is palso presumed to be the husband's child. This presumption exists even if the spouses used a sperm donor or there is another reason to believe that the husband is not biologically the father. In Illinois, the presumption that a child born into a marriage is a child of both spouses has been extended to cover spouses who are of the same sex. 

Having both spouses identified as legal parents to the child protects both spouses in the event of a divorce and also protects the child. If you have concerns regarding the legal parentage of a child, our attorneys can help. 

The Parentage Presumption for Women Married to Women

Two married women now need only to have both of their names placed on the baby’s birth certificate in order to be considered legal parents. In the past, it may have been necessary for the wife who is not a biological parent to legally adopt their spouse’s child. However, now, when a child is born, the spouse of the person who gave birth enjoys the protection of being a presumed parent regardless of their genders. 

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Joliet parenting time restriction lawyerIt is generally presumed that it is in the best interests of children to have a relationship with both of their parents when the parents are not in a romantic relationship or marriage. However, this is a rebuttable presumption, and in certain circumstances, is negated entirely. Where one parent is causing harm to the child, it is the duty of the other to take steps to protect the child. It is important to understand the legal boundaries of what a parent may and may not do in an effort to keep the child safe. Harm may come in the forms of physical violence, emotional attacks, sexual abuse, neglect, or exposure to an unsafe lifestyle, such as criminal behavior or drug use.

A parent’s behavior need not escalate to the level of legal child abuse offenses to cause significant harm to impressionable children. If you feel that your child’s other parent is a danger to the child’s physical or emotional well-being, there may be steps an attorney can help you take, such as seeking a new parenting time allocation

Legal Tips for Mitigating the Harm of a Dangerous Parent

Even for those who were never married to their child’s other parent, the courts of Illinois are open to parents seeking to allocate parenting time and parental responsibilities in a formal legal arrangement. Potential steps that may be helpful depending on the specifics of your situation may include: 

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Orland Park child custody lawyerNo one wants to be involved in a child custody dispute, but if you have a difficult relationship with your child’s other parent, it can be tempting to resort to unsavory tactics to gain more parenting time. While many divorced or never-married parents dream of getting sole custody, it is rare in Illinois. Your desire to spend as much time as possible with your children is very understandable, but it is important to play by the rules. Here are some common tactics that you should avoid when you are involved in a child custody dispute. 

How Not to Fight a Child Custody Battle

You would do anything for your children, but some tactics are likely to backfire on you. Even if your child’s other parent is attempting these strategies, it is generally best to let your attorney handle it. It is easy for a guardian ad litem, judge, or child custody evaluator to tell when a parent is trying a tactic like: 

  • Coaching the child - “Coaching” a child means telling them what to say, either to the court or to the other parent. Some parents will train even very young children to say certain things that they think may sway a court. It is often very apparent to outside parties when a child has been coached. When a child is simply parroting what a parent has instructed them, they are often unable to provide consistent responses to other questions. 

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homewood-divorce-lawyer.jpgOne of the few reasons that divorced parents still need to see each other is to make custody exchanges. Generally, both parents need to be present at a child custody handoff unless there is an agreed-on third party with authorization to pick up or drop off a child. For parents whose divorce is still pending, these exchanges can be very tense. Both parents may be tempted to use child exchanges as a time to find fault in the other parent. For those whose divorce is far from amicable, handing off a child can even turn into an argument. It is important for both parents to know how to handle handing off a child in order to avoid further upsetting the child. When parents work together to put the child first despite their differences, the child is more likely to have a relatively smooth adjustment. 

Ways to Keep a Child Custody Exchange Safe and Civil

While not upsetting the child further is important, nothing is more important than safety for everyone involved. Some tips you may find helpful include: 

  • Do not talk divorce - This is not the time to try to negotiate the terms of your divorce. That should be done with attorneys present. Resist the urge to bring up any points of disagreement regarding your divorce or your child custody proceedings. 

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