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Child Custody and Visitation Attorneys

Child Custody and Visitation Lawyers Serving Illinois

In a divorce, child custody and visitation issues are often the most difficult matters to resolve. Emotions run high when both parents fight to obtain the custody arrangement they desire. Additionally, how custody is awarded will also impact who pays child support and at what amount. At the Illinois divorce law firm of Kezy & Associates, we are skilled in handling all types of child custody matters. Our divorce lawyers understand the challenges custody negotiations and litigation can bring, both legally and emotionally, and we fight to obtain the best possible resolution for you and your family. Often the best solution is a negotiated settlement, but some custody disputes can only be resolved in court.

Joint Custody Following Divorce

There are many different ways to structure a custody arrangement between divorcing spouses. These days, the court generally favors joint custody arrangements so the child(ren) can have exposure to both parents. Joint custody does not necessarily mean the child will go back and forth from one parent’s home to the other’s, however. In many cases, one parent will be awarded physical custody of the child, which means the child will primarily reside with that parent. The other parent will be awarded certain visitation rights and may also obtain legal child custody.

When a parent has legal child custody, that parent must be involved in making important decisions regarding the child. For example, medical decisions and decisions about the child’s education must be made together when both parents have legal child custody. Reaching an amicable agreement about child custody issues is usually in the best interests of everyone involved, especially the children. A contentious battle makes it difficult to work together on parenting issues in the future and can be emotionally destructive towards children. Our divorce lawyers do everything we can to help facilitate an amicable joint parenting agreement.

Custody and Visitation for Non-Parents in Illinois

Most child custody disputes involve parents fighting each other for the custody arrangement they each desire. Some custody disputes involve a third party. Third party custody and visitation disputes most commonly involve grandparents who wish to assume custody of a grandchild, but other family members may also petition for custody.

At the Illinois family law firm of Kezy & Associates, we are skilled in handling all type of child custody and visitation cases. With over 25 years of experience practicing family law in Northern Illinois, we have represented clients in the full spectrum of custody and visitation matters. Our child custody attorneys aggressively advocate for our clients’ objectives as well as the best interests of the child(ren) involved.

Custody Rights of Non-Parents in Illinois

In Illinois, as in most states, there is a “parental preference rule.” This means that when parents are fit, they are first in line for custody of their child. The law presumes that children are best served by being in the care of their parent(s).

Consequently, the court will not grant custody to a third party unless the parents are found to be unfit. A third party may challenge the fitness of a parent, however, in order to support a custody claim. Litigating this issue is typically at the heart of non-parent custody challenges.

There are many situations in which a third party such as a grandparent can successfully assert his or her custody rights, including:

  • If the parent does not currently have custody of the child;
  • If the parent voluntarily relinquished custody of the child;
  • If the child is in physical or psychological danger while in the care of the parent;
  • If the child is neglected by the parent;
  • If the parent is physically or mentally incapacitated; or
  • If the parent is dead.

If a grandparent or another relative has had physical custody for a long time and has established a strong parenting relationship with the child, that party may have a strong claim for custody.

Even if the child is in the custody of a parent, a third party may be able to bring a claim for visitation if it has been denied by the parents. While the court typically prefers to allow parents to make decisions about who their child visits, it is sometimes possible for family members who have a strong claim and history with a child to successfully request visitation.

Contact a Child Custody & Visitation Attorney

If you are involved in a divorce and face child custody and visitation matters, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We will discuss your family’s unique circumstances and what custody arrangement would work best for you and your children.

Illinois family laws changed on July 1, 2017. Click here to read how child support was affected.