During the COVID-19 pandemic, our firm is fully operational and we continue to provide family law services for divorce, post-decree, pre and postnuptial, and parentage matters, including collaborative divorce and mediation services. Courts in the Chicago metropolitan area are operating largely through Zoom virtual court proceedings. As always, we continue to provide free initial consultations, which can be performed virtually via Zoom or over the phone. We look forward to serving you soon. -- Lawrence Manassa

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Barrington Child Custody Attorney

child custody attorney

In any divorce where children are present, ensuring they have the care and support of their parents is the most crucial issue. When parents separate or divorce, parental rights can be incorporated into the divorce decree. When parents are unmarried, you must first establish paternity before parenting time can be decided.

The best interest of your child is our primary concern at the Manassa Divorce + Family Law Group at Kelleher + Holland, LLC. We are dedicated to helping parents maintain a healthy relationship with their children. Our experienced and accomplished family law attorneys can help you resolve your divorce and parenting matters in a way that protects your children and preserves your parental rights.

Our lawyers provide divorcing or separated parents with sound legal advice and skilled representation. Our lawyers will clarify the legal issues surrounding residential parenting arrangements, including joint decision making responsibilities and sole physical care.

Different Types of Custody in Barrington

Physical and Legal Custody

The term “custody” is no longer used in the legal world. Instead, parents share decision-making responsibilities and physical care of their children. Physical care is awarded to the parent with whom the child will live with the majority of the time. This can be just one parent or both parents can share the care of the child. How much time each parent spends physically with the child is outlined in the parenting plan, and joint physical care does not mean equal parenting time. In other words, a couple could share joint physical care, but the child may live with their mother 5 days a week.

Legal decision-making responsibilities are often shared by both parents. This allows both parents the legal rights to jointly make decisions regarding:

  • The child’s education
  • Religion
  • Health care
  • Extracurricular activities

What Are Shared Parental Responsibilities?

This arrangement requires the parties to agree that they can co-parent with each other to make major decisions and raise their children. Typically, the courts prefer joint parenting as long as it is in the best interest of the children.

What Is a Sole Decision Maker?

The court will sometimes award one parent the sole right to make decisions concerning the medical, educational, religious, and extracurricular activities of the children. It is only ordered if the courts determine that it is what is best for the children.

How Parental Disagreements Are Resolved

Parental disagreements and visitation rights can be resolved in one of two ways:

  1. Mediation, collaborative law, and negotiation: Parents will meet to come to an agreement on the decision making and visitation rights. This can be done by themselves or with the help of an attorney. Mediation and negotiation can save divorcing couples a significant amount of time and money. They also allow the couple the freedom to reach constructive and creative solutions to their own family issues.
  2. Family court: A family court judge makes the final decision on legal decision making and visitation rights based on the facts presented and the best interest of the support for the child. This is often the last resort when a couple cannot come to an agreement on their own.

Factors That Can Determine Parental Responsibility in Barrington

Sometimes the best interest of the child can be difficult to determine. Therefore, courts use several factors to determine who should have physical care and legal decision making responsibilities. One of the main factors is which parent is the child’s  “primary caretaker” (the person who does the majority of meal planning and prepping purchases clothes and does laundry, bathes or grooms the child, and fosters the participation in sports or extracurricular activities). Other factors to consider include:

  • Wishes of the child (if the child is old enough to express a preference)
  • Religion or cultural considerations
  • Age and sex of the child
  • Mental and physical health of the parents
  • The ability of parents to perform parental responsibilities
  • Adjustment to the child’s school or community

We Find Parental Arrangements That Meet Your Needs

While the best interest of the child is the ultimate standard that must be met for any arrangement to be approved by the courts, parents have the opportunity to negotiate creative arrangements that meet the needs of all parties.

Maintaining an amicable relationship with your former partner will help facilitate agreements. When feasible, this will be our goal. Our attorneys are also accomplished, skilled litigators should the need arise.

From the moment you contact us for an initial consultation, we will begin exploring your legal options with you. Our attorney-client relationship is one that we take very seriously. We begin by taking the time to listen to your story and understand your concerns. We know that every family is different and parenting solutions need to reflect those differences. That is why we work to help divorcing parents find creative solutions to their issues while keeping the children as the primary focus.

We know that divorce is a highly emotional time. That is why we offer compassionate and caring legal assistance through every phase of the divorce process.

Custody and Visitation FAQs

How can I get primary care of my children?

In Illinois, the courts have one main goal: to do what is in the child’s best interest. Most often, the courts believe that spending time with both parents is beneficial to the child and their well-being. However, sometimes it is not. Getting primary physical care of your children is not easy. Yet, with an experienced divorce attorney on your side, you may be successful. If there is a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or incarceration, we can help you protect your children from further harm. Our lawyers will offer you compassionate, yet aggressive legal guidance throughout the divorce process.

Can I move out of state with my children?

Moving out of the state with your children is difficult, but not impossible. Recently, the courts have become more receptive to moves, especially when they improve the lives of the children. However, these types of parenting battles are not easy and can be intense. You will need to clearly establish to the courts that you are moving for legitimate purposes, that the move will be in the child’s best interest, and that you will maintain the child’s connection to their other parent. Even when these elements are clearly established, the courts may still not award you the right to move out of state. To discuss your legal options and the possibilities of moving out of the state, call our law firm immediately.

How can I change my child custody agreement?

In Illinois, the term “child custody” is no longer used. Instead, parents are allocated time with their children and they may share in the decision making for them. However, there are times when you may need to modify your existing parenting agreement. Changes in living circumstances and healthcare needs are two reasons why an existing agreement may need to change. When this occurs, an experienced divorce attorney can walk you through the modification process. Courts are hesitant to change existing agreements unless you can clearly establish that a change is in the child’s best interest. For this reason, it is important to let our attorneys build a strong case for you before heading to court.

What is joint decision making?

The courts allow both parents to share the responsibilities of making important decisions about their children. This is known as joint decision making. Parents who are joint decision-makers must make important decisions about healthcare, religion, education, and extracurricular activities together. The courts also allow both parents to share childcare and parenting responsibilities. This is known as joint physical care. However, joint physical care does not mean equal parenting time. It simply means that both parents share the responsibilities of physically raising their children. Your divorce attorney can help you understand the differences and protect your parental rights throughout the process.

Is joint custody or sole custody appropriate for my child(ren)?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifies 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.” If you and your (soon-to-be) former spouse can communicate and cooperate for the sake of your children’s well-being, joint custody may make the most sense. Joint custody means that you and the other parent will work together to make major decisions for your child(ren). On the other hand, there may be compelling reasons in favor of sole custody for one of the parents.

What happens when there are disputes between parents regarding visitation schedules or processes?

Mutually agreeable creative solutions are often the most beneficial for all concerned. If you wish to maximize your involvement in your children’s lives and minimize the likelihood of a drawn-out legal battle with the other parent, prepare to work closely with your child custody lawyer. Attorneys of the Manassa Divorce + Family Law Group at Kelleher + Holland, LLC, are ready to help you resolve visitation disputes reasonably. We are well qualified to advocate effectively on your behalf.

What if I need to request a modification to a child custody order because I am going to move or have a new job that requires frequent travel?

It is not uncommon for parents to ask family law courts for permission to move and take children out of state or otherwise change child custody and visitation orders. The length of time that has passed since the child custody order became valid will make a difference.

If less than two years have gone by, you will need to demonstrate to the court that your child would be somehow endangered by keeping the current child custody order in effect.

If more than two years have passed, you will need to demonstrate that a substantial change has taken place. The proposed new child custody and visitation arrangement should preserve the child’s well-being, promote a healthy home environment and encourage continued involvement by both parents.

Contact The Manassa Divorce + Family Law Group at Kelleher + Holland, LLC

Our family law firm has the experience and ability to successfully manage the most complex cases and look forward to helping you arrive at a result that protects your rights and meets the needs of your children.

Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our North Barrington divorce attorneys. We can answer your questions about parental responsibility, child support, spousal support, and divorce.

Our headquarters are located in North Barrington, with additional offices in Waukegan and Hinsdale, Illinois. We also serve clients in Chicago, Crystal Lake, Arlington Heights, Palatine, Schaumburg, Elgin, Buffalo Grove, Lakewood, Cook County, Lake County, McHenry County, DuPage County, Kane County, and the surrounding communities.