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Co-parenting & Custody Agreements

Spouses may divorce each other, but they do not divorce their children. Our legislature has been trying to protect children from the negative impact that divorce causes them. Recent changes to Illinois child custody law reflect this continued effort to improve outcomes for children. Rather than titled “child custody” which was for many years the term used by the Courts and identified by our citizens, this body of law is now known as “allocation of parental responsibilities.”

The new regulations require couples to establish a formal parenting plan through the court system soon after they file for divorce. If both parties agree on how they will divide their parental responsibilities, their attorneys can prepare and finalize a parenting plan. If the parties disagree, a judge can determine the arrangement in a hearing, based on the best interests of the child (or children).

Custody Agreements

In Cook County, there were two types of custody arrangements: sole custody and joint custody. In a sole custody arrangement, one parent makes all the major decisions about the child’s health and welfare. In a joint custody arrangement, both parents make these major decisions and share all important decisions that affect their child or children together. It was traditional that only one parent would have “residential custody,” meaning the child will reside with one parent most of the time.

Now, the important determinations such as medical decisions, educational decisions, selection of extracurricular activities and religious persuasion can be divided between the parents. The courts use some critical factors in deciding which parent will make better decisions for the child or children:

  • The child’s adjustment to his/her home, school, and community;
  • The interaction of the child with both parents, other siblings, a new spouse, or parent’s girlfriend or boyfriend;
  • The mental and physical health of the parents and child;
  • Ongoing or repeated physical, verbal, or emotional, abuse directed against the child or the spouse;
  • Physical violence or any threat of physical violence directed against the child or the spouse; and
  • Ability of both spouses to communicate and facilitate a continuing relationship with the other parent and the child.

A court will only award joint decision making (what was joint custody), now a joint allocation of those responsibilities, if both parents exhibit an ability to cooperate in matters impacting the child’s welfare.

Child Custody Disputes

Nothing is more painful than a custody dispute that pits parents against each other and puts a child in the crosshairs. No parent wants this to occur, but all too often it does. When parents are unable to make a determination about which of them should make these determinations, the courts are available and duty bound to help litigate their differences. In matters concerning custody (parental rights and responsibilities) of minor children, litigation is always a last, but possibly necessary, resort.

At Davis Friedman, our attorneys – most of whom are parents themselves – have witnessed the trauma of the litigation process firsthand, and that’s why we work so hard with our clients to reach a result that is in the best interests of the child or children, and all the parties involved. It is also why we strive to find extrajudicial solutions – in other words, an agreement outside the courtroom – to bring an effective, economical and amicable closure to our clients’ disputes. They are often the most creative way to determine an interesting solution crafted for each unique family.

Sparing families – especially children – the intense pain of the litigation process is a top priority at Davis Friedman. Using their extensive knowledge and expertise in Illinois child custody law and allocation of parental responsibilities, our attorneys work closely with both parents to craft parenting agreements and bypass litigation. However, if litigation becomes necessary, our attorneys are committed and highly skilled at representing our client’s interests at trial with a history of great outcomes.

Moving a minor child out-of-state

Change is a fact of American life. Parents often relocate for new jobs, better economic opportunities, health issues, remarriage and more. Child custody disputes and parenting plans complicate this normally routine process. If a parenting plan is in place and a parent wishes to move a minor child out-of-state, the parent must first obtain the consent of the other parent or obtain permission from the court. Davis Friedman’s lawyers are skilled in removal case disputes and adept at navigating clients through these sometimes contentious waters to arrive at the best possible resolution.

Moving a minor child abroad

When a parent wishes to move a minor child aboard, there are additional and important legal issues to consider. Cases that involve parents who have taken minor children to reside outside of the United States covertly or against the other parent’s objections, are covered under The Hague Convention rules. A country that has signed the International Hague Convention submits its citizens to the treaty’s jurisdiction, rules of procedure and evidence. Davis Friedman lawyers have significant experience handling treaty-related litigation in state, federal and international courts.

Have questions? Contact us about working together.

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