Chicago Child Custody & Visitation Lawyer

Chicago Child Custody & Visitation Lawyer

Chicago child custody attorney/lawyer

It can be incredibly difficult for any parent to face losing time to spend with their child. Unfortunately, many divorces in Chicago, IL, require addressing child custody. It is also possible for unmarried parents to end their relationships and decide to raise their children separately as single parents. In either case, parents must resolve child custody through the court, obtaining legally enforceable terms and conditions for parenting time, parental responsibilities, and financial support for their children.

Guiding Parents Through Chicago Child Custody Determinations

If you have children in Chicago and are planning to divorce your spouse, or if you are an unwed parent seeking a custody order to determine legal rights over your children, Johnson O’Keefe can help. Our team has successfully guided many clients through difficult child custody determinations in the Illinois family court system. We know parents’ emotional challenges and procedural obligations in these cases and do everything we can to help our clients approach these disputes with peace of mind.

Why Do I Need a Chicago Child Custody Attorney?

It is technically possible to resolve child custody without an attorney but doing so is much more difficult than many parents expect. Even if you think you and your child’s other parent are on relatively agreeable terms, it is natural for any parent to want to fight for as much custody as possible when confronted with legal proceedings that could significantly impact their time with their child. Working with an experienced Chicago child custody attorney eliminates the possibility of any procedural or clerical errors interfering with your case, and you will also be better prepared to make your case for custody.

A family court judge must handle every child custody determination in Illinois. Every family court judge is beholden to ruling in favor of a child’s best interests no matter what a case entails. When parents go to Chicago family court to settle custody, the judge overseeing the case has the final say regarding allocating parenting time and assigning parental responsibilities. Even if parents must resolve custody in divorce and take advantage of alternative dispute resolution, they cannot privately resolve any issues pertaining to child custody and/or child support.

You need an experienced Chicago child custody attorney who can help you gather any documentation you must produce for the court, prepare you for each courtroom session in front of a Chicago family court judge, and address any unforeseen complications that arise during your case. Johnson O’Keefe has helped many parents approach their custody determinations with greater confidence, helping them understand the specific legal mechanisms in play and helping them develop solid claims for custody.

How Is Child Custody Determined in Illinois?

Every child custody dispute filed in the Illinois family court system must be reviewed and resolved by a family court judge. The judge is legally required to rule in favor of the best interests of the children in the case, and they accomplish this by carefully evaluating numerous factors, including:

  • The overall fitness of each parent for handling their child’s basic needs. If a parent has a criminal record, a history of domestic violence, or a substance abuse disorder, the judge will be unlikely to consider them fit for custody.
  • Family dynamics and the preferences of the child. The judge should strive to disrupt the child’s life as minimally as possible in their ruling, and they will also seek to evaluate the bond between the child and each parent. If the child is old enough to convey their preferences, the judge will probably want to hear what they have to say.
  • The child’s unique needs. If one parent is better suited to handle a child’s medical, social, developmental, or educational needs, this will factor heavily into the judge’s final decision.
  • The willingness and availability of each parent to assume custody. Child custody unfolds differently in every case. Some cases involve both parents fighting for as much custody as possible, while in other cases, one parent may be unable or unwilling to assume a significant share of custody. As a result, judges must carefully evaluate a custodial parent’s ability to manage their child’s everyday schedule, the demands of their respective careers, and the child’s unique needs when assigning custody.
  • The living arrangements of each of the parents. The judge must ensure that any parent with physical custody has appropriate space for their children and the ability to provide a safe environment for them. If divorcing or separated parents live close to one another, joint parenting is easier to arrange.

Ultimately, every child custody case requires careful evaluation of multiple factors, and no two cases unfold exactly the same. Therefore, you need responsive and experienced legal counsel on your side, regardless of how easy or difficult you expect your custody determination to be. Johnson O’Keefe can provide ongoing guidance as all stages of your court proceedings unfold.

Changing a Custody Order in Illinois

The family courts of Illinois recognize that life can easily present unexpected challenges at any time, sometimes influencing the terms and conditions of standing custody and support orders. If you have a child custody order in Chicago, it is essential to abide by its terms carefully at all times, but life could pose challenges that very suddenly impair your ability to do so. Parents must use the appropriate channels when such things occur and request reasonable modifications to their family court orders. It’s possible to petition for a reasonable and necessary change to any standing family court order in Illinois. Instead of a complex appeal that challenges the legal basis of the original order, if you need a change to your custody agreement, you file a petition for modification to the Chicago family court. For example, if you suffered a catastrophic injury that caused a permanent disability, you could be unable to continue meeting your parental responsibilities. A modification request to reallocate custody would likely fall within the judge’s interpretation of your child’s best interests in this situation.

Whether you need legal counsel for an initial custody determination in Chicago or need to make changes to your current custody order, legal representation from an experienced Chicago child custody attorney is invaluable. Contact Johnson O’Keefe today and schedule your consultation to learn more about the legal services we provide to Chicago parents facing custody disputes.

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