Lake County Child Custody Modification Lawyer 

Helping You Navigate the Complexities of Child Custody Modifications in Lake County, Kane County, McHenry County, and Cook County, Illinois

When it comes to matters involving children, emotions can run high, and the stakes are incredibly important. If you face a child custody issue in Lake County, Kane County, McHenry County, or Cook County, Illinois, you need a compassionate and knowledgeable legal partner on your side.

At Manassa Law P.C., our experienced Lake County child custody modification lawyers understand the emotional weight of these situations and are dedicated to protecting the best interests of your children.

A child custody modification lawyer from our firm can evaluate the reasons you’re seeking modification and represent you throughout the process. Working closely with you, we’ll explore solutions and strategies to obtain the outcomes you seek based on your specific needs and goals.

Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help you navigate the complex process and increase your chances of getting the favorable results you deserve.

Understanding Child Custody in Illinois

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Several years ago, Illinois amended the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. It replaced the term custody with “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.

This shift reflects a broader understanding of parental roles and responsibilities in child rearing and emphasizes cooperation and shared decision-making rather than assigning one parent as “legally superior” to the other parent. 

Here are some key aspects of the changes to child custody laws in Illinois:

  • Allocation of Parental Responsibilities: Instead of awarding sole or joint custody, Illinois courts now allocate parental responsibilities between the parents based on the child’s best interests. These responsibilities include significant decision-making regarding the child’s education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities.
  • Parenting Time: Parenting time refers to the time each parent spends with the child. Illinois law encourages the maximum involvement of both parents in the child’s life, promoting shared parenting arrangements whenever possible. Parenting time schedules are tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of each family.
  • Best Interest of the Child Standard: Like many other jurisdictions, Illinois uses the best interest of the child standard to determine parental responsibilities and parenting time arrangements. Courts consider various factors, including the child’s relationship with each parent, the parents’ ability to cooperate and communicate, the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community, and any history of abuse or neglect. 
  • Parenting Plan: Parents are required to create a parenting plan detailing how they will allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time. This plan must be submitted to the court for approval. If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will intervene and establish one based on the child’s best interests.
  • Modification and Enforcement: Parents can petition the court to modify the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time if there has been a substantial change in circumstances or if the existing arrangement is no longer in the child’s best interests. Illinois also provides enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with parenting plans.

These changes aim to promote cooperative co-parenting and prioritize the well-being of the child. By shifting away from the adversarial language of custody battles, Illinois seeks to foster healthier relationships between parents and facilitate ongoing involvement in their children’s lives.

Factors That Influence Child Custody Decisions in Illinois

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When determining parental responsibilities and parenting time, Illinois courts consider a variety of factors to meet the best interests of the child. 

These include: 

  • The wishes of each parent;
  • The wishes of the child, taking into consideration the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences. Illinois does not specifically state what age this may be, but experience has shown that the preferences of children between the ages of 11 and 13 are given some weight by the court, and preferences of children of age 13 and up are given significant weight by the court;
  • The amount of time each parent spent performing caretaking functions in the last 24 months. This includes providing meals, preparation for school, bathing and grooming, laundry, providing necessary clothes and supplies, and facilitating the children’s extracurricular activities. 
  • Prior agreements or course of conduct between the parties relating to the child;
  • The relationship between the child, parent, and other siblings;
  • The mental and physical health of the individuals involved;
  • The child’s needs;
  • The distance between the parent’s residences;
  • Physical violence or the threat of physical violence by a parent;
  • Willingness and ability of each parent to place the needs of he child ahead of their own; and 
  • Willingness and ability of a parent to facilitate and encourage a close relationship with the other parent.

Reasons for Child Custody Order Modifications

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While orders regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities are legally binding, they are not set in stone. As circumstances change, you may need to seek a modification to the existing custody arrangement.

Some common reasons for seeking a modification include: 

  • Relocation: If one parent needs to move out of state or a significant distance away, a modification may be necessary to adjust the co-parenting schedule.
  • Changes in employment or financial circumstances: Significant changes in a parent’s work schedule or financial situation can impact their ability to care for the child effectively.
  • Safety concerns: If there are credible allegations of abuse, neglect, or other safety issues, a modification may be necessary to protect the child’s well-being.
  • Changes in the child’s needs: As children grow older, their needs may evolve, potentially necessitating adjustments to the custody arrangement.

The Process of Modifying a Child Custody Order in Illinois

If you feel you need to modify your allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time in Illinois, you need to follow the proper legal procedures.

We can handle these steps for you:

The Process of Modifying a Child Custody Order in Illinois
  1. Determine whether mediation is required before court intervention and Notice to the other parent: Illinois Allocation Judgments require the parents to participate in mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution(s), regarding parenting issues, whether about parenting time, safety concerns, children’s wishes, or financial issues. The mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution(s), requirement in each agreement may be different. Therefore, the first step in any modification proceeding is to determine what requirements you have to pursue mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution(s), providing notice to the other parent of the current parenting issues and requesting participation in the required alternative dispute resolutions before seeking court intervention. At Manassa Law, P.C. we will help guide you through the process of any alternative dispute resolution and/or notice requirements listed  in your Allocation Judgment. 
  2. Filing a petition for modification: If mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution efforts were unsuccessful, the next step is to file a petition with the court. You must outline the reasons for the requested modification and the proposed changes.
  3. Providing evidence: You’ll need to provide evidence that supports your request for modification. This can include documentation of changes in circumstances, witness testimony, or expert evaluations.
  4. Pretrial Conference: Before going to trial, the court will encourage, and in some instances require both parties to participate in an informal, “off the record” conference with the Judge. During the conference, the Judge will hear both parties’ positions on each outstanding issue, the Judge will then make recommendations as to how they would likely resolve specific issue(s) at trial, in an effort to encourage the parties to reach an agreement. 
  5. Trial: If parties can’t reach an agreement, the case will proceed to trial. Both parties, with their legal counsel, can present their evidence and arguments before a judge.
  6. Court decision: The judge will review all evidence and testimony and make a ruling based on the best interests of the child.

What About the Custodial Rights of Unmarried Parents in Illinois?

Illinois does not treat children born to married parents and children born to unmarried parents differently from each other. All children are provided the same protection under the law. As such, Illinois will apply the same “best interest of the child” standard through the same legal procedure to children born to unmarried parents.

Termination of Parental Rights

In extreme cases involving abuse, neglect, or abandonment, it may be necessary to seek the termination of a parent’s rights. Our attorneys can guide you through this complex process.

The Importance of Having an Attorney Represent You

Seeking modifications of child custody orders in Illinois requires in-depth legal knowledge and the experience of a qualified family law attorney.

An Illinois child custody lawyer from Manassa Law P.C. by your side can provide numerous benefits:

  • Our attorneys have a deep understanding of Illinois child custody laws and regulations. We can assert your rights and safeguard your child’s best interests.
  • We will advocate tirelessly on your behalf and present compelling arguments and evidence to support your case.
  • We can offer a cool head and objective counsel during emotionally charged situations to help you make rational, prudent decisions in the interest of your child.
  • Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and can work towards a fair resolution without the need for stressful, expensive, and protracted court battles.

Contact a Illinois Child Custody Modification Attorney Today

At Manassa Law P.C., we understand the emotional toll that child custody disputes can take on families. Our compassionate and dedicated team offers personalized attention, and we’re committed to developing tailored solutions based on your unique needs to help resolve the matter as expeditiously as possible.

Lawrence S. Manassa, Child Custody Laywer
Illinois Child Custody Modification Lawyer, Lawrence S. Manassa

At all turns, you can count on us to work diligently to protect you and your child’s rights and help facilitate favorable outcomes for all involved.

If you’re facing a child custody issue in Lake County, Kane County, McHenry County, or Cook County reach out to our experienced family law attorneys serving in Lake County, IL right away. Contact Manassa Law P.C. today at (847) 221-5511 to request a free initial consultation.