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  • Deciding Child Custody in Divorce Cases in Alton, IL

    January 7, 2019 | Blog Family Law
  • How are child custody and visitation decided during a divorce in Alton, IL?

    Divorce is always a stressful time, and it becomes even more difficult when children are involved. Determining a custody and visitation schedule is complicated and varies depending on the specific situation, but there are some general guidelines that judges follow. If you’re getting divorced in Alton, IL and worried about child custody, here are some things to consider.

    Parental Responsibility and Parenting Time

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    In Illinois, the court considers two different aspects when it comes to custody. Parental responsibility, which was formerly referred to as legal custody, is the ability of the parent to make decisions about the child. This can include things like healthcare, education and religious instruction. Parenting time, which used to be called physical custody or visitation, is how much time each parent spends with the child. The court will consider each one separately.

    Creating a Parenting Agreement

    If your divorce is amicable, you have the option to sit down with your attorneys and former spouse and create a mutually agreeable parenting agreement. This means you decide together who is responsible for making certain decisions and how much time the child has with each parent. The judge still has to approve your parenting agreement and may overrule it if it is not in the best interest of the child, but that is uncommon.

    Maintaining the Status Quo

    Generally speaking, the court doesn’t like to cause major disruptions in the child’s lifestyle. This means that if the parents are separated and the child is primarily living with one parent, the other parent may have trouble getting more parenting time. If one parent wants to move into another state or even just another school district, the parent remaining in the same Alton, IL area is likely to get more parenting time. However, this may change if there is a good reason to disrupt the status quo.

    The Best Interest of the Child

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    While the court considers many factors when deciding on custody and visitation matters, the main factor is the best interest of the child. Some major things that can affect custody are violence or abuse, drug addiction and mental instability that may cause harm to the child. If the child expresses a preference for living with either parent, especially if the child is at least 14 years old, the court will give significant weight to that.

    Divorce and custody cases are complex and varied, so it’s important to have good legal representation. If you’re facing a divorce and unsure of what to do, reach out to your Alton, IL law firm, Levo-Donohoo, LLC, today.