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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!

Understanding Your Rights as a Father

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Every March, single parents are celebrated on National Single Parent Day. As marriage rates decline and rates of births outside of marriage rise, single parenthood in the U.S. is increasing. While mothers have certain rights, fathers, too, have access to their share of rights.

Family law has evolved over the decades, giving fathers the same constitutional rights as mothers. These rights include making decisions about the children and spending time with them. In Illinois, fathers are awarded equal parenting time and share decision-making authority.

In fact, the state created a law that acknowledges the rights of fathers. The Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 recognizes the right of children to receive the physical, emotional, and monetary support of their parents, regardless of their parents’ marital status.

The importance of fathers playing an active role in their children’s lives cannot be underestimated. While mothers have long been viewed as being nurturing caregivers, capable supporters, and strong providers, the role of fathers and father figures is just as critical.

Numerous studies conducted on fatherhood show that children whose fathers are involved or supportive tend to perform better academically. Social and language development are also easier for these children. Similar to mothers, fathers can be capable caregivers and effective disciplinarians.

Father and Daughter playing outside

What is the importance of establishing paternity?

Paternity means being a legal father. While the legal father is normally considered to be the biological father, this is not always the case. A father can adopt a child and become the legal father, just as one who has rights through a valid surrogacy agreement.

Establishing paternity is important for fathers who wish to be involved with their children. Rights, privileges, and responsibilities come with establishing paternity early on. Delays in establishing paternity can lead to accusations that the father is uncaring or financial support being owed.

Paternity also gives the legal father the right to specific information about the children, such as medical care and school performance. By failing to establish paternity, a father could miss out on opportunities to guide and protect the children or otherwise parent them.

What are the rights of a father?

Upon the confirmation of paternity, a father may be granted certain rights under Illinois family law. Particularly, the father may seek custody and visitation rights, which are now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, respectively.

Not all parents contribute equally to the care of their children. Parenting time may be scheduled based on variable factors, such as how much time the parents wish to spend with their children and a history of the parents’ level of involvement with their children.

A father may gain greater parenting time if, upon examination of past behavior, the judge finds evidence showing how involved the father was. If a father wants to spend more time with his children, his past efforts to do so will influence the judge regarding future opportunities for parenting time.

If a mother attempts to prevent the father from spending time with the children but the father tries to be involved, it can sway a judge’s decision in favor of the father. The judge will primarily gauge the past efforts of the father when determining a parenting schedule.

It is a sad fact that a mother with whom the children live may outrightly refuse to allow the father to visit his children. Such a parent may allow or disallow access to the child based on the conveniences of her schedule or as a way to leverage financial support.

A court can intervene, however, and give the father parenting time with his children. The exception is when the mother expresses verified concerns about the safety and well-being of the children when in the father’s care. In such cases, parenting time may be supervised by a relative or professional.

Parenting schedules are determined after the judge evaluates the fitness of both the mother and father, their co-parenting time and their past involvement with the children. It is possible that the father can be awarded the majority of parenting time with the children.

Overall, Illinois courts give importance to giving both parents regular opportunities to spend time with their children. The reality is that Illinois fathers who want parenting time with their children will receive it under the laws of the state, unless the father poses as a safety risk to the children.

Once the courts are involved, the judge will ensure that both parents will spend time with their children, and neither will be able to exclude the other parent from the children’s lives. The goal of the courts is to encourage a meaningful relationship between the children and both parents.

Fathers may also have the right to receive child support. The law gives equal importance to both parents, meaning they share parental responsibilities and, if appropriate, child support payments. A child support agreement may be reached with the help of a father’s rights attorney.

Children benefit significantly when both parents are involved in their upbringing. However, fathers may have a bigger uphill battle when seeking visitation rights and the opportunity to make decisions in their children’s lives. It’s important to consult the attorneys at Berry K Tucker & Associates when this occurs.

We are a family law firm with a team of father’s rights attorneys who are experienced in providing legal assistance to fathers who are underrepresented. Once you establish paternity, our lawyers will help you address any legal concerns regarding the relationship with your children.

Our father’s rights attorneys will fight for your rights for visitation, high child support payments, child custody, and overreaching child enforcement actions. Fathers who already play a significant role in the well-being and development of their children will make it easier for the courts to grant further rights.

The family law attorneys at Berry K Tucker & Associates are committed to defending the rights of fathers and ensuring they have rightful access to their children. When you seek expert legal guidance, consult our law firm. We support fathers in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Call today to schedule an appointment.

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