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Wheaton Child Custody Lawyers

Wheaton, IL Child Custody Attorneys

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. In fact, Illinois law now refers to child custody as "allocation of parental responsibilties," and the right to make decisions for children may be either divided between parents or shared equally both both parents. These decisions may include areas such as what schools the children will attend, what doctors they will see, and what religious upbringing they will observe. Under the law, there is no set parenting time 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 interests of the children.

At Jenz Law Office, 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 Interests of the Children

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court may consider "all relevant factors" to determine how parental responsibilities may be allocated in a way that protects the the children's best interests, 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 Interests

When the best interests of a child are in question, the court will often appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate contested cases. Attorney Judith Jenz is a court approved Guardian Ad Litem, and she is experienced in serving in this capacity. A Guardian Ad Litem may testify on the results of their investigation, and they will often make a recommendation to the court. Judges may 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/parenting time order based on changed circumstances that were not anticipated when the prior order was entered.

An important side note is that the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and child support are separate matters. Many judges take a dim view of parents who limit or deny children's time with the other parent based on delinquent child support payments. However, judges may also take action to enforce unpaid support. Rather than attempting to take matters into their own hands, disputes involving these issues may need to be settled through the courts to ensure that the parents' rights and the children's best interests will be protected.

Joint Parenting Agreements

In most cases, the parents will share in the allocation of parental responsibilities, and each parent will have reasonable parenting time with their children. A parenting plan, which is a legally-binding court order, will detail how parental responsibilities will be allocated, and it will provide a parenting time schedule. Children may reside with one parent most weekdays, every other weekend, and every other holiday. However, other solutions may be available depending on a family's needs, and if necessary, children may divide their time equally between the parents' homes. As disputes arise, which they almost invariably do, the parents can work things out by agreement, or they may turn to a third-party mediator or a judge to help resolve the matter.

Contact Our Wheaton Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Attorney

All children deserve a stable and supportive home environment. For a free consultation with an attorney who can develop a plan that meets these goals and does not sacrifice your legal or financial interests, contact Jenz Law Office today at 630-202-8842 for a free consultation. Convenient payment plans are available.

Jenz Law Office

124 South County Farm Road, Suite C
Wheaton, IL 60187

Call Today630-202-8842


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