Child Custody Attorney
in Edwardsville, Illinois
When parents go through a divorce, they’re forced to make difficult decisions about how child custody and parenting time will be split between each spouse. Deciding this will almost always require compromise on each side as you navigate this life transition for the whole family. In times like this, it’s important that you understand what your options are and how Illinois state law may affect your custody arrangement.
If you’d like to speak with a family law attorney about this, call us at Hawkins Law Office, P.C. Let’s work together to achieve a future that works for everyone in your family. Reach out today to set up a consultation. Our offices are in Edwardsville, Illinois, but we’re able to help families throughout the area, including Belleville, Carlinville, Jerseyville, Vandalia, Hillsboro, and Greenville.
Reach Out Today for Help with Child Custody
Establishing a Child Custody Arrangement
A child custody agreement lays out when the child will be with each parent. In general, you have two options for how you will determine this arrangement with your former spouse:
Option 1: If you are still on relatively good speaking terms with your spouse, you can work together to draw up your own terms and present them to the court for approval. A judge will then review your plan. If it serves the best interests of the child, they will almost always approve it. When possible, this tends to be the quickest, least expensive, and most painless option, but it does require you to have tough conversations that not all dissolving couples are able to do.
For those parents who need a little more support, you can work with an experienced attorney to keep the conversation productive and on track. Attorneys can often work as mediators, or each parent may wish to consult with an attorney privately before entering negotiations with their co-parent.
Option 2: If you and the other parent can’t come to an agreement, you can take the case to family court and the judge will use their best judgment in establishing a custody arrangement. However, in most cases, you will be required to try mediation first before a judge will review it. This route will take longer and will be more costly since you’ll want an attorney presenting your case to make sure your interests are represented.
This agreement will outline whether custody will be held together (joint custody) or if it will be awarded to one parent (sole custody), as well as establish a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. There is also a legal distinction between legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the decision-making ability of the parents for issues like schooling, religion, and medical care, and this can be shared or held by one parent. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and how this time is split between the parents. It is possible to award joint legal custody, but sole physical custody.
Factors Considered in Determining Custody
If a judge is deciding your custody arrangement, they will always consider the best interests of the child above all else when making their ruling. There is no preference given to the mother or the father, and when at all possible, the goal is for the child to maintain meaningful and substantial relationships with both parents. When the court is reviewing your case, they’ll look at a number of factors including the needs of the child, the physical and mental health of each parent, the emotional bond the child has with each parent, the ability of each parent to provide for their child, and in some cases, the wishes of the children themselves.
Modifying an Existing Child
If you are already divorced and co-parenting children with your ex-spouse, there will likely come a time when you need to make a modification of child custody with the court. This happens when one parent has a major life change such as a loss of employment or relocation, or if one parent isn’t holding up their end of the agreement. In almost all cases, you will need to make a compelling argument to the judge that a change is necessary since the court will prioritize stability for the child when at all possible. If both parents are in agreement about the change and the child is still permitted quality time with each parent, the modification will likely be approved.
Child Custody Attorney
Serving Edwardsville, Illinois
Going through a divorce is never easy, and when you have children together, it makes it even more difficult. However, change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. With the right help and support, your family can come out on the other side of it stronger and happier. At Hawkins Law Office, P.C. in Edwardsville, Illinois, we’re committed to collaborating with you throughout this difficult time.