Wheaton Child Custody Lawyers
Experienced Child Custody Attorneys in DuPage County
In most cases, Illinois child custody orders encourage frequent and consistent contact between parents and children, as well as shared decision-making. This may include areas such as what school the children will attend, what doctor they will see, and what religious upbringing they will observe. Under the law, there is no set parenting schedule, so individual families have the freedom to develop a plan that conforms to their individual needs. In divorce proceedings, paternity matters and other family law situations, judges will often approve plans that are mutually agreed upon by the parties - provided the court finds the plan to be in the best interest of the children.
At The Law Office of Judith Jenz, we take the time to listen to you and determine your needs and goals. Next, we thoroughly research the applicable law to develop a plan of action. Then, we take prompt and sustained action in to further that plan. Attorney Judith Jenz serves as your strong advocate in both court hearings and negotiation sessions.
Best Interest of the Children
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court may consider "all relevant factors" to determine the children's best interest, including:
- The amount of prior contact between children and parents;
- Preference of both the children and parents;
- Children's adjustment to their schools and communities;
- Any prior domestic violence;
- The physical and mental health of all parties;
- Any military deployment obligations; and
- The willingness of each parent to co-parent.
Although all these factors theoretically receive equal weight, judges often pay close attention to co-parenting skills and the preferences of older children.
Determining Best Interest
When the best interest of a child is in question, often the court will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate contested cases. Attorney Judith Jenz is a court approved Guardian Ad Litem and is experienced in serving in this capacity. The Guardian Ad Litem may testify on the results of their investigation and often will make a recommendation to the court. Judges also hear testimony from both the parents and from non-party witnesses, including teachers, caregivers and religious ministers.
Once the court issues final orders, there is typically a waiting period before they can be modified. Most judges will change a custody or visitation order based on changed circumstances that were not anticipated when the prior order was entered.
An important side note is that custody, support, and visitation are separate matters. Many judges take a dim view of custodial parents who limit or deny visitation based on delinquent child support payments.
Joint Parenting Agreement
In most cases, the parents divide physical and legal custody. Children reside with the custodial parent most weekdays, every other weekend, and every other holiday. While both parents have input in a child-rearing decision, the custodial parent has the final say. As disputes arise, which they almost invariably do, the parents can work things out by agreement or turn to a third-party mediator or a judge to help resolve the matter.
All children deserve a stable and supportive home environment. For a confidential consultation with an attorney who can develop a plan that meets these goals and does not sacrifice your legal or financial interests, contact The Law Office of Judith Jenz today at 630-202-8842 for a confidential consultation. Convenient payment plans are available.