Whether you decided to file for divorce because of an unhappy marriage or you never married the other parent of your child and are mid-breakup, custody matters may weigh heavily on your mind. You likely worry about how much time you will get to spend with your children and how you will handle major matters in their lives.
Parents living separately will need a custody order, which in Illinois involves an allocation of parenting time and other parental responsibilities. How will an Illinois family law judge divide your parental rights and responsibilities if you and your ex litigate custody and have the courts resolve your disagreements?
The priority is always what is best for the children
In litigated custody matters in Illinois, a family law judge should always the focus on what is best for the children. They will need to learn about the family circumstances. The relationships that each parent has with the children, the health and work schedule of the parents and even the preferences of the children can sometimes influence how the courts divide parenting time.
Parents who show that they put their children’s needs first and who focus their custody case on upholding the interests of the children will often have an easier time achieving their goals than those who fight needlessly with their ex or who make their own preferences the major basis of their custody cases.
You don’t have to go to court
Many Illinois parents don’t initially realize that a judge is not the only one who can settle custody matters. You have the option of negotiating with one another, having your attorneys negotiate for attending mediation to resolve your disagreements about how you share parenting time and crucial decision-making authority for your children.
If you are able to arrange your own schedule and determine for yourselves how to share parental authority, you don’t need to have a judge make those decisions on your behalf. You can instead present your parenting plan to the courts for approval. If in the future you determine that you need to change or update your parenting plan, you can go back to court for a modification when circumstances warrant it.
Learning more about the Illinois approach to child custody matters will help you feel confident as you prepare for family court.