Obtaining Child Custody in Illinois & Michigan

A Proven Law Firm for the Most Contentious Part of a Contested Divorce

Image of full custody or temporary custody of a child in Illinois or Michigan

Prolonged custody disputes can take an emotional toll on both the children and parents involved in the litigation. The ability of an attorney to be an effective advocate in such a dispute requires not only an understanding of the procedural and evidentiary issues relevant to the legal process, but also an acute sensitivity to the psychological and emotional dynamics of the family involved.

 

A Child of Divorce in Michigan, a Family Law Attorney in Illinois

Having once been a child involved in a bitter divorce and custody dispute, founding attorney Christian S. Collin is well aware of both the emotional and financial challenges confronting parties involved in contested child custody litigation. Given his personal history, Attorney Collin is committed to obtaining the best custodial arrangement for clients and their children, while attempting to guide them through the process as smoothly and expeditiously as possible. As a preliminary matter, Collin Law Offices will make every effort to reach a mutually beneficial agreement between the parties before going to trial. If that cannot be achieved, Attorney Collin will zealously advocate for your interests throughout the trial proceedings.

 

Illinois Child Custody Laws

Regardless of whether the parents of a child have been married or not, all child custody litigation in Illinois is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/602). Section 602 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage (IMDA) act sets forth the relevant statutory factors considered in child custody determinations, specifically the best interest of the child standard.

In determining the child's best interests for purposes of allocating significant decision-making responsibilities, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, without limitation, the following:

  1. The wishes of the child, taking into account the child's maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making.
  2. The child's adjustment to his or her home, school and community.
  3. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
  4. The ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making.
  5. The level of each parent's participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child.
  6. Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision-making with respect to the child.
  7. The wishes of the parents.
  8. The child's needs.
  9. The distance between the parents' residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent's and the child's daily schedules and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement.
  10. Whether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate under Section 603.10.
  11. The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.

In the case of a custody proceeding in which a stepparent has standing under Section 601, it is presumed to be in the best interest of the minor child that the natural parent have the custody of the minor child unless the presumption is rebutted by the stepparent.

  • The court shall not consider conduct of a present or proposed custodian that does not affect his relationship to the child.
  • Unless the court finds the occurrence of ongoing abuse as defined in Section 103 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, the court shall presume that the maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents regarding the physical, mental, moral and emotional well-being of their child is in the best interest of the child. There shall be no presumption in favor of or against joint custody. (Source: P.A. 90-782, eff. 8-14-98.)

Keep in mind that these statutory factors are not exhaustive and courts can consider other relevant factors. A custody determination may also include, but not be limited to: consideration of the sufficiency and stability of the respective parties homes and surroundings, the interaction and relationship of the child to his parent and the child's adjustment to his home, and in some situations, the relative economic positions of the parties involved.

Courts may also appoint a guardian, lawyer or child's representative to represent the interests of the children, and may also appoint experts to evaluate the parties and the child. Experts typically include psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals, and may be called to testify regarding how the best interests of the children will be served.

 

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
(750 ILCS 5/602.5)

Sec. 602.5. Allocation of parental responsibilities: decision-making.

(a) Generally. The court shall allocate decision-making responsibilities according to the child's best interests. Nothing in this Act requires that each parent be allocated decision-making responsibilities.

(b) Allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities. Unless the parents otherwise agree in writing on an allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities, or the issue of the allocation of parental responsibilities has been reserved under Section 401, the court shall make the determination. The court shall allocate to one or both of the parents the significant decision-making responsibility for each significant issue affecting the child. Those significant issues shall include, without limitation, the following:

  1. Education, including the choice of schools and tutors.
  2. Health, including all decisions relating to the medical, dental, and psychological needs of the child and to the treatments arising or resulting from those needs.
  3. Religion, subject to the following provisions:
    (A) The court shall allocate decision-making responsibility for the child's religious upbringing in accordance with any express or implied agreement between the parents.
    (B) The court shall consider evidence of the parents' past conduct as to the child's religious upbringing in allocating decision-making responsibilities consistent with demonstrated past conduct in the absence of an express or implied agreement between the parents.
    (C) The court shall not allocate any aspect of the child's religious upbringing if it determines that the parents do not or did not have an express or implied agreement for such religious upbringing or that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate a course of conduct regarding the child's religious upbringing that could serve as a basis for any such order.
  4. Extracurricular activities.
    (c) Determination of child's best interests. In determining the child's best interests for purposes of allocating significant decision-making responsibilities, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, without limitation, the following:
    (1) the wishes of the child, taking into account the child's maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making;
    (2) the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
    (3) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
    (4) the ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making;
    (5) the level of each parent's participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child;
    (6) any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision-making with respect to the child;
    (7) the wishes of the parents;
    (8) the child's needs;
    (9) the distance between the parents' residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent's and the child's daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
    (10) whether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate under Section 603.10; 
    (11) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
    (12) the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child's parent directed against the child;
    (13) the occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child's household;
    (14) whether one of the parents is a sex offender, and if so, the exact nature of the offense and what, if any, treatment in which the parent has successfully participated; and
    (15) any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant.

    (d) A parent shall have sole responsibility for making routine decisions with respect to the child and for emergency decisions affecting the child's health and safety during that parent's parenting time.
    (e) In allocating significant decision-making responsibilities, the court shall not consider conduct of a parent that does not affect that parent's relationship to the child.
    (Source: P.A. 99-90, eff. 1-1-16.)

 

Allocation of Parenting Time
(750 ILCS 5/602.7)

Allocation of parental responsibilities: parenting time.

  1. Best interests. The court shall allocate parenting time according to the child's best interests.
  2. Allocation of parenting time. Unless the parents present a mutually agreed written parenting plan and that plan is approved by the court, the court shall allocate parenting time. It is presumed both parents are fit and the court shall not place any restrictions on parenting time as defined in Section 600 and described in Section 603.10, unless it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a parent's exercise of parenting time would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.

In determining the child's best interests for purposes of allocating parenting time, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, without limitation, the following:

        1. the wishes of each parent seeking parenting time;
        2. the wishes of the child, taking into account the child's maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to parenting time;
        3. the amount of time each parent spent performing caretaking functions with respect to the child in the 24 months preceding the filing of any petition for allocation of parental responsibilities or, if the child is under 2 years of age, since the child's birth;
        4. any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to caretaking functions with respect to the child;
        5. the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings and with any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
        6. the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
        7. the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
        8. the child's needs;
        9. the distance between the parents' residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent's and the child's daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
        10. whether a restriction on parenting time is appropriate;
        11. the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child's parent directed against the child or other member of the child's household;
        12. the willingness and ability of each parent to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs;
        13. the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
        14. the occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child's household;
        15. whether one of the parents is a convicted sex offender or lives with a convicted sex offender and, if so, the exact nature of the offense and what if any treatment the offender has successfully participated in; the parties are entitled to a hearing on the issues raised in this paragraph (15);
        16. the terms of a parent's military family-care plan that a parent must complete before deployment if a parent is a member of the United States Armed Forces who is being deployed; and
        17. any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant.

c. In allocating parenting time, the court shall not consider conduct of a parent that does not affect that parent's relationship to the child.
d. Upon motion, the court may allow a parent who is deployed or who has orders to be deployed as a member of the United States Armed Forces to designate a person known to the child to exercise reasonable substitute visitation on behalf of the deployed parent, if the court determines that substitute visitation is in the best interests of the child. In determining whether substitute visitation is in the best interests of the child, the court shall consider all of the relevant factors listed in subsection (b) of this Section and apply those factors to the person designated as a substitute for the deployed parent for visitation purposes. Visitation orders entered under this subsection are subject to subsections (e) and (f) of Section 602.9 and subsections (c) and (d) of Section 603.10.
e. If the street address of a parent is not identified pursuant to Section 708 of this Act, the court shall require the parties to identify reasonable alternative arrangements for parenting time by the other parent including, but not limited to, parenting time of the minor child at the residence of another person or at a local public or private facility.
(Source: P.A. 99-90, eff. 1-1-16.)

 

Family Mediation Programs

As an alternative to the potentially confrontational nature of contested custody proceedings, many courts have established mediation programs. Mediation can provide a forum for the family to work out custody issues with the assistance of mental health professionals and/or trained mediators. Here, too, Collin Law can be of assistance.

 

Modification of Child Custody Agreements and Decrees

Following a divorce, the issues of child custody, parental decision-making and child visitation are subject to the continuing jurisdiction of the courts. These issues can be modified following a divorce if the court determines that such a modification is consistent with the best interest of the child. It is recognized that as a child grows, his or her needs and desires may change, and in such cases a modification suit may be appropriate. If parenting time and visitation is modified, child support may also be subject to modification.

 

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