When parents cannot agree on an allocation of parental responsibility for their children (formerly custody) the Court must decide. The first step is often mandatory custody mediation. In mediation, a trained professional meets with both parents in an effort to reach an agreement. If the parties’ efforts at mediation are unsuccessful, the Court may appoint a guardian ad litem (“GAL”) or a child’s representative. A GAL or child’s representative will conduct an investigation regarding the areas in dispute and make a recommendation to the Court. If either parent rejects the GAL’s recommendation, the Court may then order a custody evaluation.
A custody evaluation is a process where a mental health professional (typically a psychologist or psychiatrist) will evaluate the parties involved for the purpose of making a recommendation regarding significant decision making and parenting time to the family law court judge. Generally, courts give custody evaluations considerable weight. If the parties are still unable to agree on a Parenting Plan, then the Court will set a trial date on the issues of major decision making and/or parenting time.
In Illinois, a judge must apply the best interests of the child standard when making decisions about parenting time and significant decision making. In making its determination, the Court will consider a multitude of factors including:
Illinois courts presume that the maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents is in the best interests of the child, unless it finds ongoing abuse.
Disputes about parenting rights and responsibilities can be stressful and emotionally draining. They require careful and thoughtful analysis. You need an experienced and skilled divorce lawyer to assist you in getting a fair allocation judgment (parenting plan) for you and your children. At Goodman Law Firm, we represent mothers and fathers.
If you are looking for an experienced child custody lawyer in Oak Brook, Naperville, Wheaton, or Chicago, contact us today to request a best interest consultation.
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