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Understand child custody issues before going to court

Did parenting disputes play a role in your decision to divorce? Many Illinois parents can relate to constantly fighting with their spouses about their kids. Perhaps, this wasn't the sole reason you determined you would rather move on in life without your spouse, but may have been one of the straws that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

Because your children's best interests are no doubt one of your highest priorities, it's so important to learn as much as you can about child custody laws and guidelines before heading to court. Most children are resilient and adaptable, especially if they feel supported and loved. Of course, your divorce is going to prompt changes in your children's lives but that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to ruin them. Making well-informed and careful decisions regarding child custody is a step you can take to help your children cope.

Difference between physical and legal custody

When the court hands down custody rulings, it normally involves two separate types of custody. For instance, physical custody refers to your children's place of residence. You and your ex might share physical custody, which means your kids will travel back and forth between your households. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to decision-making authority. Who will make decisions on behalf of your children regarding health care, education and other important topics?

The court decides on a case-by-case basis

In many cases, Illinois parents can devise the terms of their own child custody plans. However, the court always has the final say, meaning it must approve your self-written plan or step in to make decisions if you and your co-parent cannot come to an agreement. Every state has its own guidelines and regulations regarding child custody issues, but many commonalities exist.

The judge overseeing your case will consider various factors before handing down a ruling. Such factors typically include the ages of your children, which parent was the primary caregiver during marriage, income levels of both parents, as well as whether there are any extenuating circumstances that warrant sole custody.

Visitation may be part of your custody agreement

If a family court judge makes you the custodial parent of your children, your ex might get visitation privileges. Such visits can be supervised or unsupervised. The court will consider this matter carefully before issuing orders. If there is reason to believe unsupervised visits pose a risk to your children, it is likely the court will order supervised visitation. In some situations, the court prohibits all visitation with a non-custodial parent.

Defining and accomplishing your goals

Your children's mental and physical well-being is no doubt one of your greatest concerns as you make plans for a new life after divorce. In a perfect world, all parents would agree on all child custody issues. In reality, however, it's not uncommon for parents to disagree, in which case, a willingness to cooperate and compromise is a key factor toward success.

You know what's best for your kids. You may also have a plan in mind for your future. Your kids might experience a wide array of emotions as they cope with your divorce and adjust to life changes. The importance of obtaining a fair and agreeable child custody settlement cannot be understated. This is why it's a good idea to know where to reach out for legal support as you navigate your child custody issues.

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Springfield, IL 62704

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