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Wheaton Parenting Time LawyerInitial Post: June 19, 2015 --------- Updated January 18, 2022

When unmarried parents have a child or married parents divorce, the parents have several important decisions to make. They must address how they plan to raise the child and fulfill parenting duties. They must also determine if and when the child will live with each parent. 

While the term “child custody” is still sometimes used informally, Illinois law no longer uses the terms joint custody and full custody to describe parenting duties. In 2022, the “allocation of parental responsibilities” describes how major decisions about the child’s life are made. “Parenting time” describes the time a child lives with or visits a parent. 


Wheaton Family Law and Divorce lawyer

The issue of child custody can be quite contentious. Understandably, parents want the best for their children. When parents, grandparents, or other guardians disagree about what is best for the children, the situation can escalate quickly. In many child custody disputes, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is assigned to the case. The GAL’s job is to advocate for the child’s best interests. If a guardian ad litem has been assigned to your case, consider the following tips.

Prioritize Your Child’s Wellbeing

It goes without saying that divorce, child custody cases, and other family law cases can be quite difficult for children. Younger children may not understand what is going on and therefore reach the conclusion that they have done something wrong. Older children who understand the legal issues may feel awkward and unsure of how to respond. Keeping child-related schedules and routines as consistent as possible can help reduce the chaos brought into the child’s life during this time. It is also important to avoid sharing too much information with the children about the specifics of the case.


DuPage County family law lawyerIf you are a parent getting divorced, you probably spend a lot of time worrying about how the divorce will affect your kids. Divorce brings about massive changes to a child’s home, family, and daily life. Some children struggle to cope with these changes. Fortunately, Illinois law reflects the fact that divorce is hard on children, and policies have been instituted to minimize the trauma of divorce as much as possible. This is one reason that children are not typically asked to testify in court during child custody cases or other family law issues. However, your child may be asked to participate in the case in other ways.

The Court May Consider the Child’s Preferences

Illinois courts make every child-related decision with one key priority in mind: ensuring that the child is safe and well cared for. Consequently, child custody decisions are always made with the child’s best interests in mind. However, courts do often take children’s preferences into consideration during family law cases. The child’s statements will not determine the outcome of the case, but they may influence the court’s opinion.

Child Interviews in an Illinois Divorce or Child Custody Case

If the court wishes to learn more about a child’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions during a family law case, the court may use several different legal avenues to gather this information. In many child custody cases, a guardian ad litem is assigned to gather information about the facts of the case. As part of their investigation, the guardian ad litem (GAL) may visit the parents’ homes and interview the child. The GAL may ask the child about the types of activities they like to do with each parent and other questions designed to learn more about the child’s home life. The GAL may also inquire about household rules, discipline, homework, and daily routines.  This information is then organized into a report and submitted to the court.


DuPage County child custody attorneyIn an Illinois divorce, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time is detailed in a “parenting plan” or parenting agreement. Some divorcing couples are able to negotiate an out-of-court agreement, while others are subject to the child custody order handed down by the court. However, life is full of unexpected changes, and there may come a time when a parent needs to modify or update their custody order. If you need to modify your child custody order, make sure you understand how and when custody orders may be changed under Illinois law.

Changing the Allocation of Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities

Change can be really hard on children. Consequently, Illinois courts generally limit child custody modifications unless they are necessary to promote the child’s best interests or a certain amount of time has passed since the custody agreement was established or last modified. If it has been less than two years since the last custody order, modifications to parental decision-making responsibilities are usually only possible for the purposes of protecting a child from endangerment. Parenting time can be modified sooner in response to a substantial change in circumstances or upon the parents’ agreement.

If one parent wants to change the custody arrangement but the other parent disagrees, the parent seeking modification will need to file a petition to modify the child custody order and demonstrate to the court that the modification is in the child’s best interests.


DuPage County parenting plan lawyerA divorce is never a walk in the park. However, if you and your spouse have children, it can make the ordeal even more complex. In Illinois, you are required to create a parenting plan that describes how you and the other parent will take care of your kids after your divorce is finalized. Including the right elements is critical to promoting your children’s well-being, and it can also help you maintain a positive co-parenting relationship with your former spouse.

Elements You Must Include in Your Parenting Plan

According to Illinois law, there are certain elements that should be included in your parenting plan, including:

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