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Tips for Filing Divorce in Illinois

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While marriages are meant to last forever, they don’t always do. Each state will have different legal requirements for finalizing a divorce, but this article will highlight the general steps of where to start, how to prepare for your court hearing, and how to finalize it. Just keep in mind that all cases are unique and it would be a good idea to work with an experienced family attorney to guide you through the process. They will be able to address your specific situation and guide you to make the best legal decisions throughout the process.


Preparing for Divorce

As mentioned previously, working with an attorney through the divorce can make things a lot easier and will help you fight for what is most important to you. They will be able to foresee specific factors that will affect your case and even know what is favored and disfavored by the judge after working with them in previous cases.

The family attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are experienced in all areas of family law, including divorce, child custody, parental responsibilities (child support), alimony, property division, and more. They will be able to help with you with as much or as little assistance as you need, including the following:

  • Initial consultation
  • Providing legal advice
  • Informing you which laws will apply to your case
  • Guiding you throughout the divorce process

Make Sure You Qualify to File for Divorce

In order to file for divorce in the state of Illinois, you must have lived here for at least 90 days. You must also adhere to the following:

  • Both parties must agree to the divorce and agree that there is nothing more that can be done to save the marriage, despite making all efforts to solve the problems after 6 months.
  • Live separately from your spouse for at least 2 years if your spouse does not agree to the divorce.

Know the Law, Conditions, and Standards

While your divorce attorney will advise you to read up on the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5, discussing child custody, support, and property division. This document will prepare you for the presumptions and preferences the judge has to make as well as using proper terminology, including:

  • Determine child custody according to the child’s best interest.
  • Determine child support on the number of children under 18 and a percentage of the payer’s net income.
  • Determine the division of property assets, unless you and your spouse have already agreed beforehand.


Select the Court to Process the Divorce

As each county will have its own court system, choosing which one to file will have an impact on the results of your case. If you and your spouse have been living together up until the time of divorce, it is best to pick the court in your own county. Otherwise, file in the county in which your spouse lives to ensure that they will be able to order support from him or her.

Finding and Completing All Forms

While Illinois Legal Aid provides some simple forms to fill out, there are a number of documents to read over and sign. Your divorce attorney can also help with this process, or feel free to use your local self-help center. But it is crucial that you understand the significance of these documents and what you agree to as they outline your future after finalizing the divorce.

Getting Ready to File for DivorcePrepare-All-Documents-When-Filing-for-Divorce-Illinois

After completing all necessary forms for your case, you will need to sign the notary boxes in front of a notary. The courthouses will usually have one on staff or allow a deputy clerk to notarize them. If this is not the case, other approved services include check-cashing services, such as a bank, or your attorney’s office. Just remember to make four copies of each document.

Identify Common Roadblocks

Because Illinois is an equitable distribution state, you and your spouse will need to agree to a property settlement. The judge will then determine how to divide the assets and liabilities according to the current situation of each party. These will include any or all of the following:

  • The property neglected by each individual
  • Any previous agreements of each individual
  • All custodial provisions of each child
  • The tax results of the property division
  • The circumstances of each parent, including age, occupation, source and amount of income, employability, employment skills, liabilities, estate, health, and their individual needs.
  • Possible and amount of spousal support or alimony
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The current value of the assets for each spouse
  • Opportunities for each party to have a reasonable income or ability to buy assetsCreate-a-Parenting-Plan-for-Child-Support-IL-Divorce-Attorney

Create a Parenting Plan that Includes Child Support

The best way to get what you want out of the divorce is to come prepared with a parenting plan. This will highlight the parental responsibilities that each of you will have to your children. It also includes visitation times that will work best for both of your schedules.

Of course, don’t forget to include child support, or the percentage of income that must be paid to the other parent, depending on how many children that need support. While the amount will vary according to the economic situation of each parent, common amounts include 20% for one child and 50% for 6 or more children. If relevant circumstances have changed, the court may deviate the percentage according to the current situation of the family.

Filing and Carrying Out the Divorce

As soon as all documents and plans are ready, provide the original copy of each document to the clerk of the court who will hear your case. Be prepared to pay a fee, unless if you are qualified to have it waived. The court clerk will then sign your documents and summons (if needed), return your summons, and stamp your copies of the documents with the filing date if you ask them.

Summoning the Divorce and Serving Your Spouse

Unless if you and your spouse have already made agreements, you will need to serve them the summons. After the clerk signs these papers, make a copy for your records, and send the originals, along with the rest of your documents, to your spouse. Keep in mind that they must receive these within 1 month of having the summons issued to you. If you prefer to avoid contact, you can pay the sheriff to deliver these documents for you. Once all documents have been received by your spouse, they will have 30 days to respond with a written answer.

File for Default if Your Spouse Doesn’t Answer

If you haven’t received an answer in over a month, you can file for a Default Judgment. Just remember that this won’t solve everything, especially if your spouse lives out of the court’s jurisdiction. For example, if the children are in Illinois and the other parent lived in a different state, the judge would be able to change the visitation times or the power of decisions they are allowed to make on your children’s behalf. But they may not be able to issue an order for child support.

Following Through with the Divorce

The first step in preparing for court is gathering evidence and information needed to support your case, known as the discovery phase. You will find the regulations, techniques, and processes regarding discovery in Part E of the Rules on Civil Proceedings in the Trial Court. You will also want to work with your divorce attorney through this phase as they can educate you on what to say and how to make the best legal decisions to help your case.

During the discovery, you will be allowed to require your spouse to:

  • Answer all questions under oath
  • Allow you to inspect items and/or property
  • Provide you with copies of documents regarding the divorce and marriage

Stating Disclosures

When preparing to state your case, make specific disclosures as well as requesting the same from your spouse. These can include lists of witnesses asked to testify, financial complications, relevant evidence, and any other statements your family attorney recommends.

But if these are not disclosed prior to the hearing or your spouse objects to their use, you might not be able to use them during the trial.

Understanding the Rules of Evidence

Ask your attorney about the rules and regulations of evidence and ensure you understand them well.


Mediation is always required when children are involved in divorce. Throughout this process, a third party will suggest possible options to help each party settle an agreement for all issues. But the mediator will only provide suggestions, not make decisions, so you won’t need to bring evidence with you. If both parties are able to come to a mutual agreement, then there is no need to go to trial.

  • If both parties have come to an agreement, the mediator will prepare all necessary documents for you and the individual to sign.
  • If you were not able to come to an agreement, matters will then be handled in court.
  • Keep in mind that the mediator will not make any statements to the court, regardless of what was said during mediation.

Scheduling the Hearing

As this is the most important step of the divorce process, make sure you are prepared with everything, including:

  • Your documents and summons
  • Relevant evidence
  • The estimated duration of the hearing
  • Issuing subpoenas for witnesses
  • Date, time, and location of the hearing
  • The judge who will attend the hearing
  • Confirmation from your divorce attorney


When Attending the Hearing

You should be dressed in business professional attire on the date of your hearing. Men should wear suits and women blazers and dress pants or skirt. If you do not have either, dress clean and respectfully, avoiding shorts, tank tops, miniskirts, sagging pants, and flip flops.

When entering the court room, don’t speak with anyone other than your attorney and the judge, and refer to them as “Judge” or “Your Honor.” Whenever it is your turn to speak, stand before doing so. The divorce case will then proceed as any other would, unless under specific circumstances:

  • The petitioner will make their opening statements (a summary of the case and what is to be proven)
  • Opening statements from the respondent
  • All witnesses cross-examined by the respondent and called by the petitioner and vice versa
  • Closing arguments by the petitioner (summary of their wishes and why the hearing should be ruled in their favor)
  • Closing arguments from the respondent
  • Final argument from the petitioner
  • Final ruling from the judge

Reviewing and Adhering to or Appealing a Hearing

After the hearing is finished, the opposed party will usually have to prepare orders, unless if you had already proposed them earlier. But if you do have to prepare them, you can find blank ones on the bench, picking the one that applies to your case, and complete it there.

When you are done, make 2 copies and file the original with the court, sending a copy to the other party and keeping the originals for yourself. As soon as the judge signs the order, you can get a signed copy from the clerk. If at any time you disagree with the ruling, you have about 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal with the Trial Court.

Ask Your Attorney for Extra Help

As there are numerous benefits of working with an experienced family attorney, they will be able to help you through all stages of the process. They may be able to complete your documents and summons for you. But regardless of your case, they will best prepare you for mediation or the hearing, including gathering all necessary evidence and information, which questions to ask, and how to answer questions. Ultimately, they will guide you to make legal decisions that will work in your best interest.

If you live in the southern suburbs or parts of Chicago, contact Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our family attorneys not only have years of experience but have worked in unique situations that will help you through any and all complications of your divorce. They also remain updated on all current law in order to educate you and argue why the hearing should rule in your favor.

Don’t hesitate to contact them at (708) 425-9530 in Oak Lawn, IL.

9 Divorce Planning Tips

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Divorce. The mere mention of the term triggers a rollercoaster of negative factors, including a drain on finances and a seemingly unending toll on emotions. The presence of children can make child custody battles exactly that—an important but exhausting fight.

Prepare for an impending divorce so you’re well-equipped with the armaments of combat. Divorce proceedings differ markedly, however, with some divorces being amiable, while others teeter on the brink of war. The type of divorce you will be involved in can determine how smoothly the process will go.

But overall, here’s how to prepare for divorce so there are no dreadful surprises along the way:

  1. Prepare financially
  2. Expect a lengthy process
  3. Seek emotional support
  4. Inventory property
  5. Close joint accounts
  6. Choose your divorce team
  7. Prepare for custody battles
  8. Find a good attorney

1. Prepare Financially

Spouses can expect to spend thousands of dollars on divorce. On average $15,500 covers the cost of attorney’s fees. At the lower end, spouses can get divorced for $1,000. Partners have even been known to spend $100,000 to legally split from their spouses.

The more elements that are involved in the divorce, the higher the cost of the divorce will be. Examples that drive divorce expenses upward include child custody, child support, spousal support or alimony, property division, and reimbursement claims.

Adequately plan to finance your divorce by setting aside a hefty portion of your earnings. Estimate your monthly budget. Cut unnecessary expenses. Ensure you have enough monetary assets to maintain your standard of living through a possibly lengthy divorce.

2. Expect a Lengthy Process

Aside from eating away at your expense, a divorce might draw out for months. The estimated time it takes for a divorce to be completed starts with filing the petition and ends with settling or receiving a court judgment. Battling spouses can fight out a divorce over the course of 11 months on average. When several issues are involved, a divorce is likely to be resolved in 17.6 months. Couples who settled took about nine months to finalize the divorce. Whether your divorce is messy or straightforward, plan to spend time managing your part during the legal process.

3. Seek Emotional Support

A divorce can speed through several emotions, from anger and guilt to frustration and relief. Prepare for this emotional journey by seeking support from friends, a divorce support group or therapists.

Remember that during a divorce, intense emotions can lead to poor decision-making. A circle of positive support can help you maintain a level head and help you approach divorce negotiations with calmness. Find a reliable network to support you through this life-changing event.

4. Inventory Property

Marital property can be identified as personal belongings, heirlooms, real estate, income, tools, jewelry and financial assets. During a divorce, marital property will be divided. Prepare for the division of property by documenting your belongings with digital photos. Photographic evidence of your personal property should be dated to prove ownership.

Keep all evidence of your belongings in a safe place away from your spouse. Examples of places to store evidence of marital property can be at work, a safe deposit box, with friends or family, and electronically. You’ll protect your marital property in the event your spouse attempts to claim that the items are not lawfully yours.

5. Close Joint Accounts

While married, spouses commonly share bank accounts. Open an individual financial account and close any joint accounts as soon as you make the decision to file for divorce. Electronic account statements sent to a new email address will offer you added security and protection from your spouse.

6. Choose Your Divorce Team

Carefully select reliable people to take you through the stressful duration of a divorce. A divorce team might consist of a mediator, judge, financial planner, mental health professional to assess child custody situations and a dependable divorce lawyer.

Navigating a divorce successfully requires the help of others. Trust your team of intelligent and experienced people, who are on your side to help you achieve the best outcome.

7. Prepare for Custody Battles

When you expect custody disputes, prepare well in advance. Show the court how involved you are in your children’s lives. Note who takes the children to appointments and extracurricular activities. The children’s school can provide documentation of who attended parent-teacher conferences.

When relevant, drug evaluations and police reports can demonstrate why a spouse should not have custody of the children.

9. Find a Good Attorney

As a legal process, divorce requires the services of a lawyer. Divorce proceedings may even be accomplished with a mediator. Complicated divorces especially, however, require the expertise of a divorce attorney. Negotiations can be complex, and an experienced lawyer can help you navigate through the paperwork and processes.

Experts recommend interviewing at least three attorneys who are experienced in family law and the specific type of divorce you need before settling on one to represent you. A lawyer who is a good negotiator, who is knowledgeable about the changing laws, and who communicates well is invaluable during divorce proceedings. Plus, an ideal lawyer will educate you on the divorce process and creatively solve arising issues.

A trust or estate lawyer can offer recommendations for reputable divorce lawyers. Local attorneys also can be found via online websites that feature valuable client reviews.

divorce-attorney-Oak Lawn, IL

Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.

A local divorce attorney is essential to ensure the lawyer is experienced in the judicial system in your area. If you live in the Oak Lawn, IL community and are planning for a divorce, contact the area’s most trusted law firm, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.

Our experienced divorce attorneys have successfully worked on cases revolving around spousal support, child support, domestic violence, division of property and numerous other aspects of divorce, like post-decree issues and visitation. The lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are thoroughly knowledgeable in the various current laws to offer the best solutions possible for each unique case.

Once you are ready and prepared for divorce, you can count on the legal team at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. to thoroughly answer any questions you have about the legal process.

How to Get Sole Child Custody in Illinois

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While still possible, obtaining sole custody for your child will take a lot of effort. Due to Illinois’ preference of joint custody with the condition that both parents are able to contribute to the child’s best interest, keeping them away from your ex can be difficult.

But the child custody attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. in Oak Lawn, IL can provide some assistance for your case. With over 50 years of combined legal experience, we can help you reach an effective solution that works in the best interest of both you and your child.

The Allocation of Parental ResponsibilitiesHow-to-Get-Full-Child-Custody-in-Illinois

Due to recent changes in Illinois’ law, the term “child custody” is no longer used. It has been replaced with a more relatable term called allocation of parental responsibilities. This can either mean that one or both parents have physical and legal custody for the child. But the parent that retains full responsibility is allowed the right to make major decisions on the child’s behalf.

On the other hand, having full responsibility doesn’t guarantee that the other parent is not allowed to be with the child. Known as parenting time, the other parent has the right to be with the child unsupervised, given that the child’s mental, physical, moral, nor emotional health is not in danger.

How to Get Full Parental Responsibility

In order to gain full parental responsibility, or child custody, you must prove that the other parent is unfit. This can also be difficult due to the fact that the judge typically favors the allocation of parental responsibility to both parents.

So to support your argument that the parent is unfit, you will need some evidence. Documentation such as medical bills, pictures, email responses, police reports, and other paperwork can work in your favor of proving that the other parent is a danger to your child.

Additional documentation that supports your position to get full parental responsibility can also help to prove:

  • Their poor employment record. If a parent cannot maintain a job to support their child’s needs, they will most likely not be granted parental responsibilities. But keep in mind that this will not affect their parenting time with the child.
  • Unsuitable living conditions. If the living situation of the other parent proves to be unhealthy or unsafe for the child, this can award more credit your way towards sole custody.
  • If there is any record of physical, sexual, emotional, or drug abuse, this will most likely be your awarding factor of full child custody.
  • The parent must be emotionally and physically capable of providing for the child’s best interest to gain custody of any type.

Show You Are the Better Parent for Full Child Custody

Despite proving the other parent unfit for gaining any kind of custody, this doesn’t always mean you will get full parental responsibility. So you will also need to prove that you are the better parent.

Below includes a list of steps you can take to support your case for gaining full child custody:

  • Discuss the best interest of your child. Prove your awareness of your child’s routines by talking about their daily schedule, extracurricular activities, and habits.
  • Demonstrate your commitment for their psychological wellbeing. Only if appropriate, discuss your intentions of allowing the other parent ample time and influence on child-related decisions.
  • Dress formally for court. In addition to a professional appearance, the proper attire will support your case in proving yourself fit for full child custody.
  • Be ready to discuss the specifics of your child’s best interests. Simply pouring out your love and commitment to the wellbeing of your child won’t be enough; the judge and court must hear what are the specific child’s needs, why, and how you plan to support them.
  • Have all paperwork and supporting evidence ready before court.
  • Practice defending and supporting your case before court.

Important tip: Never shoot down the other parent. Let them prove their inability to care for the child through their current behavior.

Get Professional Help from an Experienced Attorney

In extreme cases where the other parent is abusive on more levels than one, the court will almost always allocate full responsibility of the child to the parent as long as they prove themselves fit. But in many situations, the effort to get full child custody will be much harder.

Schedule a ConsultationBerry-K.-Tucker-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

Don’t take any chances when striving for full child custody. Contact the child custody attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. where we can offer years of experience, knowledge of current laws, and additional resources to support your case. Our lawyers have won numerous allocation of parental responsibilities for both divorcing and single parents and are more than willing to help you win yours.

Call Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a form to set up an initial consultation. We look forward to working with you soon!

What to Know About Child Custody Laws in Illinois

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Children are the number one priority for parents. When spouses divorce, it’s up to the courts to decide which parent is granted parental responsibilities. As of 2016, Illinois’ child custody laws utilize the term “parental responsibilities” as a replacement for the familiar term of “custody.”

Rearing children is a momentous responsibility, one that requires time, energy, and good decision-making skills. Financial stability, too, goes a long way in meeting the needs of a child. The day-to-day care of a child also involves attention to their daily needs and wants.

Parental Responsibilities

Family-Walking-Kids-ParentsWhen a parent is responsible for a child, the adult must ensure their kids are properly nourished, go to school, clean and dressed properly, and has access to medical care. Aside from the practical responsibilities, adults also are tasked with more subjective forms of care.

A child must engage in play, and the parent is the one to arrange this. When the child misbehaves, the parent shoulders the weight of dispensing appropriate and fair punishment. Chores are to be delegated to children. Plus, when away, the parent must arrange for suitable supervision.

A parent who is granted parental responsibilities of a child is accountable for properly rearing the youth in accordance with accepted societal expectations, many of which are aforementioned. To achieve this end, joint and sole-decision making power are types of parental responsibilities that courts may grant.

What factors do the courts consider when deciding parental responsibilities?

Judges award parental responsibility based on the best interests of the child—rather than whether one parent is better or worse. Factors the courts consider include the desires of the parents to have parental responsibility and the wishes of the child when it comes to who has parental responsibility.

A child’s wish is given consideration but is rarely the last word. A mature child may voice a preference to remain with one parent in order to remain with friends, at the same school, or in a familiar setting. However, the courts have the final verdict when deciding parental responsibilities.

A good relationship with one parent is also an influencing factor. The courts evaluate the mental and physical well-being of those involved. The judge takes into serious account if one parent is a sex offender. Potential violence and domestic violence weigh heavily in the court’s decisions.

A parent afflicted by psychological or substance abuse problems is not immediately deemed unfit to receive parental responsibility. The courts will first evaluate if the individual is able to parent and willing to receive treatment. However, pursuing treatment does not automatically grant a parent the court’s favor.

Current Illinois parental responsibility laws view the mother and father as equally potential decision makers in the life of their child. When it comes to gender, Illinois laws are neutral. Historically, mothers were the primary caretakers, leaving fathers out in the cold when it came to winning custody battles.

What affects the court’s decision to grant joint or sole decision-making power?

Mother-Daughter-Smiling-LaughingFirst, it is important to understand the major decisions that affect the life of a child. Significant life decisions include schooling, religion, health matters, and extracurricular activities. When both parents can agree on decisions of significance, the judge is likely to grant joint decision-making power.

Belligerent spouses have many more reasons to quarrel when it comes to their child. Spouses who fail to get along when directing the life of their child are subject to a division of power. In hopes to circumvent future legal battles, judges will allocate sole decision-making power to one parent.

For more information on how to get sole custody of a child, check out this article.

Is it possible to change parental responsibilities?

If and when parents agree to make a change to their parental responsibilities, the judicial processes run much smoother and quicker. For legal changes to occur, the parents are expected to file court papers. Alterations to the responsibilities may be caused by various factors.

Parenting time changes, for instance. Additional triggers include instances when a different parent pays child support or makes the everyday decisions regarding the life of the child. Also included is when a parent decides upon a new living situation or way of raising the child.

When changes to parental responsibilities occur under argumentative circumstances, the battling parents must wait two years from the date of the original order of parental responsibilities to request a change—the exception is a situation when the child is in danger.

Father-with-Daughter-PlayingEspecially if the child is faring poorly in the current living situation, the courts will take swift action to remove the child from it. On the other hand, if a child thrives and is well-adjusted, no changes are made. A stable environment is important in the eyes of the courts.

What is parenting time?

Another type of parenting responsibility is parenting time. Prior to 2016, Illinois laws used the term “visitation”. Judges divide time spent with the child, which may not be equal, between the two parents. Parents are free to request alterations to parenting time without a minimum waiting period.

Work with a Child Custody Attorney

Children of divorce require attention and care, and their needs are always given priority among the parental responsibilities and child custody lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our experienced lawyers are invested in winning your custody battle fairly and with due diligence, so that your family returns to normal life quickly.Berry-K.-Tucker-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

Our family lawyers remain up-to-date on the changing laws in Illinois; the result is that our child custody lawyers are prepared at every hearing to best represent our clients. Attorneys from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are skilled in presenting our clients in the most favorable light.

The dedication by the family law attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is rewarded with winning countless parental responsibilities cases. We deliver incomparable expertise in the complex field of family law plus thoroughness during the investigation process to all our clients.

Consult a reliable family law attorney from the reputable firm of Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. if you expect to be involved in a child custody dispute. Our knowledgeable legal team serves the families living in the surrounding areas of Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Get a Free Consultation

To receive a free consultation for your parental responsibilities case, contact Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!

What is the Most Common Child Custody Agreement?

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Outcomes of divorce proceedings legally dictate how much time a child spends with each parent and where the time is spent. A wide range of types of child custody agreements are possible. The variations are determined by parents or the courts, and both handle them differently.

Terms surrounding child custody arrangements may be agreed upon by parents during a divorce. Child custody mediation helps to amicably resolve differences between parents without having to contentiously battle in court. Mediation may be ordered by a judge or voluntarily pursued.

Child Custody Hearings in CourtLaw Books and Gavel

Divorcing spouses who are unable to reach an agreement will require a judge to set an evidentiary hearing or trial. Each parent’s viewpoint is presented and supported with evidence. The judge will make a decision and grant a final custody order at the trial. The custody decree is in writing.

Agreements between parents are normally approved by the judge, unless it could cause harm to the child. After the agreement is filed and approved by the judge, it becomes a court order. Any violations of the court order by the other parent can be challenged in court.

What’s Included in Child Custody Agreements

The written child custody agreement contains a custody and visitation schedule. Within the document are a residential or weekly schedule showing when the child is with the parent, a holiday and vacation schedule and special events schedule (where the normal schedule will change).

Parenting provisions are also included in the child custody agreement. Rules are established about how to raise the child. The provisions outline how parents decide on the child’s medical and dental care, education, religious involvement, and how disputes are settled.

Types of Custody

As mentioned, several different types of child custody arrangements exist. The most common are sole custody, joint custody, and primary physical custody. Legal custody is also available. Grandparent and visitation custody is another a type of enforceable child custody agreement.

  1. Sole CustodyMother and Daughter Smiling in Sunset

One parent who is awarded exclusive rights surrounding the child’s well-being has sole custody. This type of custody arrangement is rare and usually occurs if the other parent is abusive or suffers from a drug addiction. Being seen as unfit, the noncustodial parent will have no responsibility over the child.

The law separates sole custody into two further arrangements: sole legal custody and sole physical custody. In the former, the parent has the right to choose the child’s schooling, religious instruction, medical care, and other matters concerning the child’s welfare, without considering the other parent’s wishes.

In sole physical custody, the child lives with one parent, who does not need to confer with the other parent about how the child is raised. The noncustodial parent, however, will be granted visitation, unless the court views visitation as not being in the best interests of the child.

  1. Joint Custody

Both parents are actively involved in the child’s upbringing when joint custody is awarded. As in sole custody, the law divides joint custody further into joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or a combination of both. Each state follows its own laws concerning matters of joint custody.

When joint physical custody is granted, the child will move back and forth between each parent’s residence. In arrangements where both physical and legal joint custody are granted, both parents will cooperate to decide how the child will be raised, much as they would have during marriage.

The courts also commonly award the sharing of legal custody but not physical custody. Under such orders, the child will live with one parent; however, both parents are actively involved in making long-term decisions about the upbringing of the child.

Variations to physical joint custody are prevalent. Cases may involve shared physical custody, whereby the child alternates living between both parent’s homes, but critical decisions about the child’s welfare (such as schooling and education) are the sole responsibility of one parent.

The most common joint custody arrangements include the 2-2-3 plan and the 2-2-5 plan. Both involve spending alternate sets of days with either parent. Also common is the alternate week plan, where the child spends one week with a parent and the next week with the other.

  1. Physical Custody

    Father and Daughter playing outside

Physical custody arrangements require that the child live with the parent granted such custody. The parent with physical custody provides continual care for the child. Unless unhealthy circumstances deem otherwise, the noncustodial parent will be granted visitation rights by the courts.

Visitation rights may also be granted to grandparents if the court determines a relationship with them would be beneficial to the child. Grandparents may be awarded custody of the child in the event the biological parents are deceased or unfit to provide care for the child.

A child is more likely to adjust to changes in the family after divorce if the parents are cooperative, respectful and agree on custody arrangements. Parents who manage their emotions amidst divorce are better able to make custody agreements work for themselves and the children.

Other Custody Agreements

  1. 60/40 Custody Schedule

Like the name suggests, a 60/40 Custody schedule consists of one parent or caregiver having the child for 60% or the time while the other parent has the child for 40%. This is a good schedule to decrease the frequency of handoffs compared to a 50/50 custody schedule. The schedule works particularly well when counting the accounting for the weekend time if one of the parents works more during the week. This provides the proper time for a child to spend and maintain a relationship with both parents.

Work with a Child Custody Attorney

When you seek legal support to settle child custody matters, choose Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.. Our team of experienced divorce lawyers advocate for parents and the well-being of the child. We’ll fairly represent you in court and fight for the most favorable child custody arrangements.Berry-K.-Tucker-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-Oak-Lawn-IL

Child custody attorneys from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. conduct thorough research and investigations in preparation for your case. We provide resolutions as quickly as possible, so that you and your child can return to normal life sooner rather than later.

Child custody matters are confusing and frustrating. But with the family law attorneys from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. on your side throughout the process, you will experience relief. Whether you are a mother or a father, we’ll establish an agreement that is in the best interests of the child.

As one of the most respected divorce law firms in Oak Lawn, Illinois, Berry K Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is prepared to fight for your rights as a parent. Spouses on the brink of divorce are encouraged to call us for legal counsel surrounding all types of child custody issues.

Get a Free Consultation

Schedule your free consultation with Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. at 708-425-9530 to get started with your child custody case today.

How to File for Child Support in Illinois

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Children must be supported by their parents, whether the parents are divorced, separated, or unmarried. In order to allow each child to be adequately supported by parents, states enforce certain laws applicable to child support.

What is Child Support?Mother-Daughter-Smiling-Laughing

Child support goes beyond covering the basics, such as food, clothing and shelter. Rather, the financial support one parent pays to the other covers a range of expenses that allows for the well-being of the child. Examples of how child support may be used include the following: education-related expenses (uniforms, books, tuition fees, tutors), medical costs (medical, dental and vision insurance), childcare expenses, basic entertainment (games, Internet, movies), extracurricular activities (Girl Scouts, summer camp, clubs) and even college expenses in some situations.

How Much Does Child Support Cost?

The amount of child support one parent pays the other is determined by a set of guidelines specific to the state of Illinois. The parent paying child support can expect to pay a percentage of his or her net income. For instance, in Illinois, courts follow a set percentage that increases with the number of children needing support. Non-custodial parents who pay child support in Illinois pay:

  • 20% for one child
  • 28% for two children
  • 32% for three children

This formula is set in place in Illinois; however most other states have updated their guidelines to include the net income of both parents. Illinois law may alter in the future, as well.

Adjustments to Child Support

Adjustments to the above child support formula may be made in the event of a child’s specific educational needs, the child’s financial needs and the physical and emotional condition of the child. A high-earning parent may pay more than the aforementioned guideline, while a parent with low-earning power will pay far less.

Parents will pay child support based on their net income, whether earned or unearned. Examples of income include investments, wages, commissions, and self-employment income. Parents who expect to pay child support can estimate the minimum amount of support expected by filling out the Child Support Obligation form, which is available on the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services.

Department of Healthcare and Family Services

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services handles child support cases in Illinois. The Division of Child Support Services is an Illinois agency that is responsible for numerous child support agencies throughout the state. Any of these nine regional offices offers a locale for parents to travel to in order to file for child support in Illinois.

Illinois is heavily involved in child support cases, with the state establishing paternity, locating a noncustodial parent and enrolling a child in a health insurance program, among other scenarios relevant to the child.

Applying for Child Support

An application for child support services starts the process to obtain child support in Illinois. Keep in mind that going through the Division of Child Support Services only helps a parent receive child support and not custody or visitation rights.

An alternative to filling out an application with the Division of Child Support Services to file for child support is to hire a lawyer. A family law attorney is more expensive than going through the Illinois agency. However, a lawyer can take the child support case to court quicker and better represent you.

Once you fill out the online application for child support, it is necessary to deliver it personally, by mail or via fax. Government agencies establish deadlines for paperwork to be submitted. Be sure to adhere to any and all deadlines provided on your application. Any difficulties that prevent you from submitting the necessary paperwork on time can best be handled by contacting the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Speak to the staff member and keep a record of the name of the person you spoke with, the date and time of the call, and any relevant notes.

Waiting for Approval

A request for child support is not answered immediately. Even a change in status will take time. Modifications in a current support order can only be achieved with proof of a parent’s change in circumstance.

In Illinois, child support is only permitted to continue until the child turns 18. If the child is still attending high school, the child support will terminate once the child graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever occurs first. Parents with children who are disabled or who are incapable of providing self-support may receive child support beyond the child’s 18th birthday. In Illinois, judges may even extend child support to help a parent with expenses for children attending college.

Family Law Attorneys

When your family will benefit from child support, contact the Oak Lawn area’s most trusted family law firm, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our lawyers will advocate for you and your child, using legal expertise and over 50 years of combined experience.

Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd.child-custody-oak-lawn

Our attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. investigate and research parental responsibilities, including how much time is spent with the child, who cares for them when the child is sick and who ensures the child is in school. The results from these investigations help our legal team build a strong case and be prepared for all situations that arise. We will help you, as a parent, receive a fair resolution as quickly as possible, allowing you and your child to return to your daily lives.

Laws change rapidly. The family law attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. stay up to date on current Illinois laws and apply them to your case. We are prepared for each hearing, as a result. While fighting for child support can be an uphill battle, the lawyers at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. will work with you throughout the process to offer a sense of relief.

We have a wealth of experience fighting fairly for the rights of mothers, fathers, and their children. A consultation is available to parents who are involved in child support cases.

What is a Good 50/50 Custody Schedule?

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Upon divorce, parents will likely share custody of their kids. A good 50/50 custody schedule gives children an opportunity to spend equal time with each parent. Varying 50/50 scheduling options exist, and parents may elect to stick with one or alternate when unexpected circumstances arise.

The varying types of child custody that courts award can be confusing. As a refresher, remember that physical custody means the child will live with a designated parent and follow a specified parenting schedule. A parent with legal custody makes decisions about the child’s upbringing.

What to Know About 50/50 CustodyParent Meeting with Attorneys About Child Custody

In joint physical or shared custody arrangements, both parents must agree on a schedule that works for the family. A 50/50 custody schedule is the most common. This type of arrangement allows the children to develop strong relationships with both parents. However, commitment to the schedule is necessary.

Before exploring the numerous variations of 50/50 custody schedules, it is important to factor in physical distance. For instance, divorcees may live in different states or towns; or they may live down the block. Living a further distance away may pose as an issue for multiple weekly exchanges.

What Affects 50/50 Custody Schedules

Amicability between co-parents is also key. If the parents are unable to communicate without conflict, choose a 50/50 custody schedule that requires minimal communication. Be aware, too, that traffic jams and late meetings can disrupt custody schedules. Parents must civilly relay this information.

When considering which of the various options make an ideal 50/50 custody arrangement, take into account both parents’ work schedules. A hectic work schedule may impede timely exchanges between co-parents. Additionally, consider the children’s extracurricular activity schedules when discussing 50/50 custody arrangements.

The children’s ages also play large roles when evaluating 50/50 custody schedules. Older children are better able to handle not seeing one parent for an extended period of time. Younger children, however, will have difficulty with long intervals between visits to see the other parent.

Every 50/50 custody schedule has its pros and cons. While one arrangement may work, unanticipated life events may disrupt existing scheduling. Co-parents who are evaluating the various 50/50 custody schedules are advised to examine current, repeating schedules as a starting point.

  1. 1. Alternating WeeksChild-Support-Berry-K-Tucker-&-Associates-Ltd.

The simplest 50/50 custody schedule alternates each week spent with a parent. Mom may have the children one week, and Dad has the children the following week. While straightforward, a setup featuring alternating weeks has its own advantages and disadvantages.

A 50/50 schedule that alternates weeks is ideal for co-parents who require minimal communication. Older children, too, can better handle a week without seeing one parent. However, young children may have trouble not seeing a parent for an extended length of time.

  1. 2. Alternating Weeks with One Midweek Overnight

Parents may wish to see their children without having to wait an entire week. In such cases, incorporating one overnight during the week is beneficial for everyone. Sunday through Wednesday is spent with Mom, Thursday with Dad, and the rest of the week with Mom. Next week’s schedule is reversed.

Adding an overnight stay midweek will not work for co-parents who live a good distance apart. Neither will it be suitable for young children who will be unable to fully settle in during the single overnight that occurs during the middle of the week.

  1. 3. Alternating 2-2-3

Involved parents who would like more frequent contact with their young children may be inclined to choose an alternating 2-2-3 schedule, in which two days are spent with Mom, two with Dad and three with Mom. In the following week, the opposite schedule is enforced.

The complications of an alternating 2-2-3 arrangement occur when the parents and children lead busy lifestyles filled with work meetings and school activities. A co-parent may not know how his schedule will look like on any given Monday, which presents a problem for this 50/50 custody schedule.

  1. 4. Alternating 3-3-4-4

A solution to the inconsistencies of the above schedule is the alternating 3-3-4-4 arrangement. Parents and children enjoy greater stability, as the schedule for each day of the week is firmly set. Mom will always have the children Sunday through Tuesday, and Dad Wednesday through Saturday.

Such a schedule gives parents greater contact with their children on a regular basis. Being a straightforward and simplified arrangement, parents know when to expect time with their children and can better accommodate future events or plans that fall on a co-parent’s date.

A good 50/50 custody schedule will vary among families. Based on the children’s ages and distance between households, what works for one family may be less than ideal for another. No matter what 50/50 custody schedule is ultimately chosen, the kids should feel at home with both parents.

Create a children’s bedroom in both homes. Recreate the children’s space so that what is most important to them may be found in both locations. The last things parents want is to force their children to drag belongings back and forth between homes. Children should feel they have two homes.

Work with a Child Custody AttorneyFamily-Attorneys-Oak-Lawn-IL

As the kids grow older, allow them to voice their preferences in regard to scheduling. Formal documentation of the agreed-upon 50/50 custody schedule is also beneficial. To that end, Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is available to meet your and your co-parent’s objectives.

The child custody and divorce lawyers at Berry K Tucker & Associates, Ltd. are highly experienced in handling a wide range of child custody situations. We heavily research, prepare and promptly present cases so parents are able to reach a fair resolution quickly and return to their daily lives.

Our team of child custody lawyers skillfully advocate for the rights of mothers and fathers. Whether you have been granted joint or sole parental responsibility, our attorneys are well-versed in all aspects of child custody laws and will represent you in the most favorable light.

Schedule a Consultation

Families living in Oak Lawn, Illinois, are urged to contact Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd., the area’s most reputable firm of child custody attorneys at (708) 425-9530. During your consultation, we will offer expert legal counsel that will help you navigate the complex laws surrounding child custody.

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