April 12, 2020

Chicago Child Custody Lawyer

Chicago Child Custody Lawyer Chicago Child Custody Lawyer

Our Chicago child custody lawyer knows that when you and your child’s other parent are constructing a parenting agreement, you’ll need to keep one primary consideration in mind: Your child’s best interests. In the chaos and stress of a major life transition, like separation or divorce, it can be understandably tempting to focus on your own needs. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to effectively take care of your child. But with that said, Illinois family law judges are obligated to evaluate child custody and parenting arrangements according to the “best interests of the child” standard. As a result, it’s important to work with an experienced Chicago child custody lawyer to ensure that your parenting agreement is focused on your child’s best interests, even when the structure of that agreement may conflict somewhat with your own best interests.

For example, it may be in your emotional best interests to avoid all contact with your child’s other parent. However, if it isn’t within your child’s best interests to cut ties, you’ll need to find compromises. For example, virtual visitation (commonly referred to as “e-visitation”) can allow your child and their other parent to remain in contact via phone, email, video chat, and/or alternative electronic means when they aren’t physically together. Including virtual visitation provisions in your parenting agreement may be in your child’s best interests, even if you don’t relish the idea of having to facilitate this method of communication.

Virtual Visitation – The Basics

You and your child’s other parent can construct your virtual visitation arrangement in whatever way best meets your child’s best interests. If your child is very young, you may want to schedule a 10-minute video chat nightly (or according to whatever schedule makes sense) so that your ex can read your child a bedtime story. If your child is older, you can set expectations for email and video chat time. Essentially, if a method of electronic communication allows your child to remain connected with either parent when they aren’t around, you can set expectations in your parenting agreement for the use of this electronic resource. Keep in mind that parenting agreements are legally enforceable, so you won’t want to set expectations that are unrealistic or so inflexible that they become unmanageable for you, your child, or your child’s other parent.

Get Help From Our Chicago, Illinois Child Custody Lawyer

When you have questions about child custody, you should seek the help of a Chicago, IL child custody lawyer from Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC. We understand that fighting over custody of your children is not something any parent wants to do. However, the more information you have about child custody, the more prepared you can be for uncomfortable situations that arise. Your child’s safety should be the top priority for you and we know you want your child to have the best life they can. If you have any questions regarding child custody or if you would like to set up your consultation with our trusted child custody lawyer in Chicago, Illinois, please call us now. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody

Our Chicago child custody lawyer has had many clients come in with common questions regarding child custody. Below, we answer some of these questions and would be happy to elaborate on them during our consultation. 

Who gets child custody more often? Mothers or fathers?

This is a great question because typically, people think a court is more willing to award custody to a mother than a father. This comes with some of the antiquated thoughts that a mother is the one to stay home with children while the father must go out and work. However, the court will take into account how well the mother and father can parent and determine who will be the best fit for primary custody or if it should be split evenly. When it comes to a court’s decision, the only thing that matters is what is in the child’s best interests.

Does only one parent get custody?

Not necessarily, and as noted above, it is possible to win joint custody with the other parent. Our child custody lawyer in Chicago, Illinois has seen many parents who get either joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or some mixture of both. 

I have been awarded visitation. Who determines what is a reasonable amount of visitation?

If a court has awarded you visitation, then typically the other spouse will determine when and how often this happens. To help, many courts work with parents to create visitation schedules and plans so that the noncustodial parent has the opportunity to see the children when it is reasonable. This kind of plan is especially helpful when the two parents are at odds or disputing. 

Legal Guidance Is Available

If you and your child’s other parent are no longer romantically connected, it’s important to work with an experienced Chicago child custody lawyer to ensure that your parenting agreement reflects your child’s best interests. The Chicago child custody lawyer team at Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC takes great pride in helping parents navigate challenging legal transitions. Our approach is compassionate, efficient, and dedicated to “getting it right” for each family’s unique circumstances. If you are in need of legal assistance as your family’s circumstances evolve, please don’t hesitate to connect with our Chicago child custody lawyer team today; we look forward to speaking with you.

 Supervised Visitation

Whenever it is possible, Illinois family courts allow both parents to have parenting time with their children. In the majority of cases, this isn’t an issue. The biggest issue is usually just deciding how much parenting time each parent will have. Unfortunately, there are situations where it is unsafe for the child to be alone with one of the parents. In these cases, the court will order restricted or supervised visitation before deciding if and when the parent will be allowed to have unsupervised visitation. If you are engaged in a child custody situation or are concerned about your child’s safety during the other parent’s parenting time, you need the help of a Chicago, IL child custody lawyer to protect your child and your parental rights.

Typically, in a standard parenting time agreement, the parents will come to an agreement between themselves, with the help of their attorneys, to come up with a fair and comprehensive parenting plan. The parenting plan stipulates how much time the child will spend with each parent. If one of the parents has an issue that affects their ability to parent, then the court may order restricted parenting time.

The court has several options when it comes to restricted parenting time. These restrictions can be put in place any time the court deems that parent could “seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.” Restrictions can be put in place in the original custody order or in a child custody modification order if the issues develop at a later time.

If the court orders restricted or supervised parenting time, the judge will mandate what times the parenting time will take place and the locations the parenting time will take place.

If the court decides that parenting time needs to be supervised, this will apply to all parenting time until such time the court changes the order. The parents are not allowed to change the order without the court’s approval. There are several reasons why the court may decide to order supervised visitation, including the threat that the parent could kidnap the child, or the child has substance abuse issues.

Supervised parenting time may take place at an Illinois visitation center or even at the noncustodial parent’s home as long as a court-approved supervisor is present. The goal of supervised visitations is to allow the child time with both parents, which is critical to emotional health, but also ensure that they are not at any risk because of the issues of the noncustodial parent.

How You Can Make Virtual Visitation Work For Your Family

When couples go through the separation or divorce process, it can become increasingly harder to find the time to visit, especially when health is a concern and in-person visits are difficult to do in these hard times. One of the options many people are turning to is virtual visitations. This can allow those who would like to maintain a relationship with their children the opportunity to do so. After a divorce, one parent may get employment or housing in a different state making it extremely hard to visit their children on a regular basis. If this sounds similar to your situation, you may want to speak with your attorney about setting up virtual visitation sessions with your children so that you can still be close with them and have an impact on their lives. 

Doing What’s Right For Your Family

You may think there is a right way and a wrong way to visit your children but the truth is there is not going to be just one way of doing it. Your kids may have extremely busy schedules with school, sports, and music lessons. When this is the case, it may not work with your schedule to visit them frequently during the hours they are free, especially if you live further away. We understand how difficult it can be not seeing your children in person, but adding virtual visitation to your parenting plan can still allow you to do the important things like read your children bedtime stories, help them with their homework, or catch up on their days. 

Can I still plan for in-person visits? 

Unless a court says otherwise, you should always fight for in-person visits with your children. Being able to hold your children and be there for them is imperative and a virtual visit cannot take the place of a loving hug before bed. Virtual visits are a great way to connect with your children on the days that you cannot be with them in person. Even if your divorce was not amicable, you and your ex-spouse should do everything possible to encourage your children to have a good relationship with both parents and virtual visits can fill in the gaps if you cannot be there as often as you would like. 

If you are hoping to rework your parenting plan or add in virtual visits, speak with one of our attorneys today. We understand the most important thing to you is your kids. 

Stepparent Adoption and Parental Right Termination

In some cases, a stepparent might want to officially adopt a new spouse’s child. But Illinois law only permits children to have two legal parents, which means that a stepparent may only adopt a spouse’s child if the other parent terminates his or her parental rights, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. If the other parent is deceased, then consent is obviously not necessary. If you are considering stepparent adoption, a Chicago child custody lawyer from Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC. can help.

Terminating Parental Rights

It is not easy to terminate a parent’s rights. In most cases, Illinois law presumes that it is in the best interests of the child for both parents to retain their parental rights and responsibilities. However, Illinois can involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights under the Adoption Act if a court determines that the parent is unfit. Some of the grounds for unfitness that your Chicago child custody lawyer may use as in your petition include:

  •       Child abandonment
  •       Failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest or responsibility in the child’s welfare
  •       Substantial child neglect
  •       Extreme or repeated child cruelty
  •       Findings of physical abuse
  •       Failure to protect the child
  •       Depravity (such as the parent being convicted for murder or other extremely violent crime)

Parents sometimes choose to terminate their parental rights, maybe because they think it is in the child’s best interests or they have become estranged from the child. Whatever the reason, it is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Consequences of Terminating Parental Rights

It is important to understand the consequences of terminating parental rights because once terminated, parental rights are difficult – and often impossible – to reestablish.

Being a parent comes with certain responsibilities and certain privileges. Legally, being a parent gives you the right to make financial, medical, and personal decisions for the child. It also means you are financially responsible for the child’s well-being. Terminating parental responsibilities relieves you of this financial responsibility, but it also destroys the parent-child relationship. You no longer have the right to make decisions for the child. You also lose the right to be a part of the child’s life. For example, you cannot seek visitation or negotiate a custody arrangement.

A parent should think long and hard about what it means to terminate their parental rights, especially if they are doing so voluntarily. While the parent can sometimes reestablish these rights by petitioning for adoption, it is not an easy process or a foregone conclusion. 

Consent from the Child

The stepparent’s adoption may proceed once the other parent’s rights have been terminated. However, if the child is 14 years old or older then the stepparent must ask for the child’s written consent to the adoption. A Chicago child custody lawyer can navigate your family through this process.

Let Our Legal Team Help

If you are involved in a custody battle and are worried that your child is at risk when in the care of the other parent, contact Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC to speak with a Chicago, IL child custody lawyer and find out what legal options you may have.