One of the most difficult experiences any parent can face is a child custody determination. Even if they are convinced they are a fit parent deserving of custody, a Bloomington, IL, family court judge must settle custody disputes. They do this by considering as much information about the dispute as possible, but their determinations may not align very closely with the expectations of either spouse.
It is natural for any parent to have doubts and fears concerning their impending custody dispute. However, this is also very disheartening for many parents because the result is entirely outside of their control. They may make a compelling case for custody, but this may not sway a judge entirely toward their preferred custody terms. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to approach your custody dispute with greater confidence is to consult an experienced child custody attorney.
Legal counsel you can trust is an invaluable asset for any child custody dispute. Your attorney will make managing the emotional aspects of the case a bit easier and help you reach a much better result than you could manage on your own. Custody disputes often entail protracted legal proceedings, and hiring legal representation is one of the best things you can do to reach positive results.
How Is Custody Decided in Illinois?
Divorcing couples across the United States are increasingly turning to alternative dispute resolution to resolve their dissolution proceedings. Instead of expensive, protracted litigation in family court, it’s possible to take advantage of mediation or collaborative divorce to streamline your proceedings and reach more personalized results. However, you cannot privately resolve any matters related to child custody or child support.
If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse share similar values and goals when it comes to parenting your children, resolving custody may be easy in some respects. However, it is natural for any parent to wish to secure the greatest custody rights they can to have as much time as possible to spend with their children. This instinctive parental motivation generates most disputes regarding child custody in Bloomington family court cases.
No matter how divorcing parents decide to address the financial aspects of their divorce, such as property division and alimony, a family court judge must settle child custody and child support. The parents will appear before a judge, and the judge must review many factors to determine the best custody arrangement for the couple’s children:
- The judge will want to evaluate each parent’s relationship with their child. One of the best ways you can make a strong case for custody is by continuing to be a positive and consistent presence in your child’s life. Depending on their age, they are likely confused about what is happening in their family, and they may only grasp some of the concepts in play. Demonstrating a strong bond with your child to the judge handling your custody dispute is one of the best ways to make your case for custody.
- Judges also verify parents’ criminal records and other details from their pasts to ensure they are fit and safe parents. For example, if a parent has a criminal record that involves domestic violence or crimes against children, they would be unlikely to secure any significant measure of custody or visitation due to these actions.
- The judge will want to review the financial records of both parents. This is necessary for many aspects of divorce, namely property division under Illinois’ equitable distribution law. However, the income disparity between the parents and their respective contributions toward their marriage and children are heavily considered in child custody and support determinations.
- If your child is old enough to convey their preferences regarding custody, the judge will likely want to hear from them. While the judge may not rule in favor of the exact custody arrangement a child prefers, it can easily sway the judge’s final ruling if the child makes a compelling argument one way or another.
Once you understand what variables are most likely to sway a family court judge’s decision in your custody case, you can begin preparing accordingly. One of the most important things you can do to improve your custody dispute experience is to hire an experienced family law attorney to represent you.
How an Attorney Can Help You Fight for Custody
Evidence and testimony are the two most important components of any family court judge’s deliberations in a custody dispute. Both parents will have the opportunity to offer their respective testimony regarding their fitness as parents and what they believe would best suit their children’s interests in terms of custody and support. Both also have the ability to enter evidence for consideration, such as character references that support their claims for custody, documentation proving their fitness to parent, or any supporting information that helps them solidify a claim for custody.
The inherently emotional nature of any custody dispute can make it difficult for parents to focus on their practical concerns in these proceedings. Your legal counsel can be an invaluable lifeline when it comes to maintaining realistic objectives, presenting the most compelling case possible, and addressing unforeseen complications that might arise as your case unfolds. Success in your case will also require meeting strict procedural and administrative requirements, and your legal team can also handle these matters on your behalf.
Trustworthy legal representation may not only be incredibly helpful during an initial custody determination but also in the future as well. Family law is flexible in that it is possible to have the terms of your court order modified without the need for an overly complex appeals process. If you have a custody and support order that must change to account for a recent unexpected change in your life, a good attorney can guide you through modification proceedings until you secure the changes you need.
Hiring reliable legal representation is the best way to prepare for a custody determination. Experienced legal representation from a Bloomington, IL, family law attorney can help you confidently approach your proceedings and make the strongest possible case for custody. Their representation will also help you handle any unexpected complications you encounter as you resolve your case.