If you are going through a child custody case in Illinois, your goal might be sole custody or joint custody or just reasonable visitation. Hopefully your case can be amicable, but usually that is not the case. We are attorneys in Chicago who help people find the best lawyer for their case. We talked to some of the top child custody attorneys in Illinois and asked their tips for getting a great result. Here are some of the things they said.
– Remember that custody is about the best interests of the child. That means the child doesn’t get to pick where they live or who they want to spend time with.
– As the kids get older they have more influence on custody, but a Judge isn’t going to punish a parent who disciplines a child in favor of one that gives them free reign.
– You should keep track of what you do for your child and how often you do it. This includes attending their events, helping them with homework, driving them to and from school, etc.
– It’s not realistic to expect sole custody when the other parent is involved in the child’s life and doesn’t have major red flags such as abusing the kids or a bad criminal record.
– You can’t move out of State with a child without the court’s permission. They don’t allow that when it isn’t in the best interests of the kids, you don’t have a realistic plan or the other parent’s rights will be adversely effected.
– Your best chance at getting the result you want comes when the facts look the strongest for you. So if your ex got a DUI the other day, it sounds cruel, but this is likely the worst they will ever look which gives you leverage to get a better result. You can’t come to court and pin your hopes on something awful your ex did five years ago.
– It’s a myth that women automatically get custody. It happened that way for years because women traditionally stayed home with the kids so it made sense for them to have primary custody. But times have changed and custody cases are truly about what is in the best interests of the child.
– Father’s rights is a marketing term used to scare people. Men and women have the same rights under Illinois law.
– Judges aren’t stupid. If they think you are going for custody just to avoid paying child support you will likely get a bad result.
– Unfortunate, but true, Judges tend to not listen to people who don’t have a lawyer. These cases can be expensive and I get why people don’t want to spend the money on legal fees. But if you go at it alone and your ex has a lawyer, they will likely win. After that happens it’s really hard if not impossible for us to get things turned around.
– Unless you can show a drastic change in circumstances, most custody orders can’t be amended for at least two years. A “drastic change” would be new information like your ex getting arrested.
I hope this helps, if you have questions or want an attorney referral, call us at 312-346-5320 for a free consultation.