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Child custody is one of the most highly disputed issues of any divorce. It is also one of the most misunderstood. Parents often enter into child custody hearings thinking that a judge will award them sole child custody, based on their gender, or the fact that their child prefers to live with them. Other times, parents think that when they are not satisfied with the judge’s decision, they can make a motion to modify the order right away.
These are just two of the most common misconceptions about child custody. If you are going into child custody hearings, it is important that you know the facts about this legal issue, so you can better understand what to expect. Below are six facts to keep in mind throughout your divorce case.
A judge will consider many factors when making a decision on child custody, and they all reflect the best interests of the child. These factors are identical in all child custody cases. While the preference of the child is one of these factors, it is never the sole deciding factor. A judge will also only consider the preferences of the child when they are of a certain age and maturity to make such preferences known.
One of the factors a judge will take into consideration when making a decision on your case is the relationship between you and your child. If you show little interest in them or their activities, such as school plays or soccer games, you will likely not secure a favorable outcome. Always document the time you spend with your child, what was done during that time, and how often you two spend time together.
Sole custody, whether legal or physical, is rare in child custody cases. In Illinois, it is presumed that it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with each of their parents. Due to this, sole custody is only awarded in extreme cases, such as when one parent has a history of domestic violence. Without these elements present in a case, it is unrealistic to expect sole custody, or that your spouse will not receive any visitation time.
It is unrealistic for parents to live near each other for the rest of their lives simply because they have a child together. A parent may wish to move out of state for a job, or just to start their new life. Keep in mind that you must receive the court’s permission to move out of state with your child. A judge will still consider the best interests of the child if you have a realistic plan, and how the other parent’s rights will be affected.
At one point in time, judges were biased against fathers, resulting in mothers often being awarded custody. Today, many attorneys use marketing terms such as “fathers’ rights” to indicate they will always fight for the husband in the case. Truthfully, neither of these are a factor in court. Mothers are no longer automatically awarded custody, and fathers’ rights is not a term the court recognizes. Gender is never taken into consideration when a judge is making child custody decisions. They rely solely on what is in the best interests of the child.
Barring a dramatic change in circumstances, judges will typically not modify child custody orders for at least two years. A drastic change in circumstances can include a custodial parent being arrested, or engaging in domestic violence.
Child custody is a contentious and confusing issue. If you are going through a divorce, you need an experienced Hinsdale child custody lawyer on your side. At the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, our skilled attorneys will negotiate with the other side, or present arguments in court, to give you the best chance of success. Call us today at 630-920-8855 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.