Custody Lawyer Bloomington IL
Schedule an appointment today with an experienced child custody lawyer Bloomington IL.
Selecting The Best Child Custody Lawyer Bloomington IL Will Make A Big Difference In Your Case
If you need a child custody lawyer in the Bloomington-Normal area, you will be in good hands at Koth Gregory & Nieminski.
- Client Satisfaction. 80+ years combined experience. See Google Reviews/Testimonials.
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Child Custody Disputes For Unmarried or Previously Divorced Couples
Many divorce cases involve conflicts over child custody and visitation. However, child custody and visitation issues are even more prevalent in family law disputes between unmarried or previously divorced couples.
Child custody and visitation are the terms people have been using for decades to describe the arrangement between parents who are raising a child separately. However, the Illinois statute changed the terms from child custody and visitation to parental responsibilities which encompasses parenting time and decision-making.
For unmarried or previously divorced couples, the allocation of parental responsibilities may be the sole or main issue in your family law case. Whatever your situation may be, it is beneficial to gain some fundamental knowledge about the legal rights you have as a parent and seek the help of an experienced Custody Lawyer Bloomington IL.
Parental Responsibilities Issues A Custody Lawyer Bloomington IL Can Help You Navigate
- Custody/Parenting Time
- Child Support
- Orders of Protection
- Parental Alienation
On this page, we will address all these issues. We will provide an in-depth analysis of WHO GETS PRIMARY CUSTODY AND WHY…
Custody/Parenting Time –Hire The Best Child Custody Lawyer Bloomington IL
Hiring the best child custody lawyer Bloomington IL is essential so that your child’s future is protected. There are very few things in life more stressful than what parents experience when they go through a custody battle.
Many parents have trouble eating and sleeping. Concentrating at work and remembering everything on the “To Do List” starts to seem impossible. Your custody lawyer can’t solve all those problems for you, but by choosing a custody lawyer with extensive experience, you can at least relax a little knowing that they are doing everything they can to help you and your children move forward in a healthy way.
Parenting Time – Clients Who Learn The Basics of Illinois Law Often Feel Less Stressed
Knowledge is power. It’s helpful to learn about the laws in McLean County Illinois that relate to parenting time. Many family law clients feel more empowered and cope better with the stress of their custody case if they have a decent understanding of the child custody laws and the legal process.
Who Gets Primary Custody and Why?
The judge is supposed to determine the custody arrangement (parenting time) based on what is best for the child. In McLean County, the judges look at the Illinois statute (750 ILCS 5/602.7) to help them determine what is best for the child.
The statute includes 17 factors so there is a lot for the judge to consider. In addition, the 17th factor is a catchall that says any other factor the judge believes is relevant. Thus, the judge can consider just about anything as long as it is relevant to what is best for the child. Since each family’s situation is unique, determining what is the most ideal for a child is not a perfect science and judges have a lot of discretion to decide what they think is best.
A good child custody lawyer Bloomington IL can analyze your situation and use these 17 factors to your advantage. Emphasizing and downplaying certain factors is very important when you and your former partner disagree on what your child’s living situation should be.
The 17 Factors That Impact Who Gets Primary Custody
- Parents’ desired parenting plan
- Child’s preferences (more weight given to older children)
- Parents’ respective time spent caring for the child during the 2 years before the custody petition was filed
- Previous and existing arrangements between the parties
- Child’s relationships with the parents, siblings, or others who spend substantial time with the child (i.e. other family members)
- Child’s comfort with the current living and schooling arrangement (i.e. judges prefer to keep the child’s situation consistent)
- The physical/mental health of the child and parents
- The child’s needs (i.e. independent, learning disability, special needs, etc.)
- Proximity of the parties’ homes, transportation challenges, the child’s routine, and the parties’ cooperativeness
- Appropriateness of parenting time limitations
- Violence (or threats of violence) by one parent towards the child or another person living with the child
- Whether each party puts the child’s needs above their own
- Whether each parent encourages a relationship with the other parent;
- Abuse towards the child or another household member
- Whether one parent is a convicted sex offender or resides with a convicted sex offender
- Whether there is a military family-care plan that must occur prior to a parent’s deployment
- Any other factor the judge believes is relevant
An experienced custody lawyer Bloomington IL can tell your story in a way that highlights the ways you care for your child better than your former partner and calls out the behavior of your ex that puts your child’s well-being at risk.
How Much Does Abuse Impact Parenting Time?
Factors 10, 11, 14, 15 described above are serious issues that may require immediate action. Physical and sexual abuse are two of the main reasons courts impose parenting time limitations.
If your former partner has been physically or sexually abusive towards you, your child, or another member of your household, you may want to contact the police immediately and meet with a child custody lawyer Bloomington IL as soon as possible to get an Emergency Order of Protection (EOP).
Order of Protection (OP)
There are several types of orders of protection. Below are a few common examples of protective orders.
- Emergency Order of Protection (EOP)
- Plenary Order of Protection (POP)
- Illinois Civil No Contact Order (CNCO)
- Stalking No Contact Order (SNCO)
- Firearm Restraining Order (FRO)
Your child custody lawyer Bloomington IL can explain the distinctions between these protective orders and determine which protective order is appropriate for your circumstances.
How Much Do Drug/Alcohol Issues Impact Parenting Time?
The judge will assume both parents are fit to share time with the child in their custody. The judge will not impose any limitations on a parent’s time with the child unless the judge determines that certain limitations should be in place to prevent the child from serious danger.
Physical danger is the most obvious reason to impose a limitation, but the judge can also impose a limitation on a parent’s time with the child if the child’s mental health, morals, or emotions would otherwise be in serious danger.
What constitutes “serious danger” is often a hotly contested area and the judge’s decision is often difficult for parents to accept. For example, judges vary significantly on how dangerous they believe a parent’s drug or alcohol use is to the child. The same goes with a parent selling drugs.
Many people would assume that a parent who is proved to have a problem with using or selling drugs would be an unfit parent because their behavior puts the child in serious danger. However, without proof that the parent abuses drugs or alcohol with the child present, many judges are reluctant to limit the parent’s time with the child.
One way your custody lawyer Bloomington IL can help you is to understand whether you or your former partner have drug or alcohol issues and file a motion to change the judge ruling on your case based on your lawyer’s knowledge of that judge’s tendency to be more lenient or harsh regarding drug and alcohol issues.
Parental Alienation refers to a situation where one of the parents manipulates the child to the point that the child becomes estranged from the other parent without a good reason. This can have negative outcomes such as the child displaying disrespectful behavior, aggression, or even fear towards the alienated parent.
In order to determine parenting time and decision-making responsibilities for the child, one of the factors that the courts in Illinois look at is whether each parent facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent.
Based on parental alienation allegations, the court may order that a guardian ad litem (GAL) investigate the issue in which the GAL serves as the “eyes and ears of the court” and may interview the child, parents, teachers, doctors, etc. to try to understand the situation and provide a recommendation to the court as to what is in the best interests of the child.
The judge may also seek the advice of any professional such as a psychologist and request that an evaluation be done and provide a report as to his/her professional conclusion relating to the allocation of parental responsibilities (parenting time and decision-making).
Regardless of whether your case involves safety concerns, parental alienation, or you and your ex are both good parents, schedule an appointment today to meet with an experienced child custody lawyer Bloomington IL.
Other Important Things Clients Need To Know
There are other important considerations that are typically addressed in conjunction with custody, such as child support and orders of protection. Further down on this page we will address child support, how to enforce child support payments, and protective orders.
But first, we will explain the custody process, which includes mediation, parenting classes, and developing a parenting plan. The judge will develop a parenting plan that the parties must follow based on the 17 factors described above unless the parties provide the judge with an agreed parenting plan in writing.
The Custody Process Starts With Mediation Process
After filing a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities, the court in Illinois will order the parents to go to mediation.
The mediation process is supposed to assist the parents in formulating or modifying a parenting plan or supplementing a parenting plan. However, courts sometimes bypass mediation if the judge determines that there are circumstances that make it impractical or unsafe to require mediation.
The mediator is a neutral person who provides a neutral process to assist the parties in reaching a solution to the issues raised. Mediators do not give legal advice or represent anyone in the case. There is a cost for mediation that the court may allocate between the parties if the parties cannot come to an agreement on their own with respect to the mediation costs.
For many years, Kristin Nieminski of Koth, Gregory & Nieminski has been on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Illinois Court-Certified Mediator List as a parental responsibilities mediator as well as financial mediator. With extensive mediation experience, Koth, Gregory & Nieminski can prepare you for what to expect during the mediation process.
Parenting Class – The Judge Will Make You Relive Your Days as a Student
The Illinois courts require the parties to complete a court-approved parenting class within 60 days after the initial case management conference. Some younger parents or parents with alcohol or drug issues can learn a lot from this class.
Other more experienced parents are annoyed by this parenting class requirement, but the class includes some helpful information that many of us could stand to benefit from so we encourage you to keep an open mind.
Throughout the child custody case, the judge pays attention to how the parents conduct themselves. Following all the requirements as well as being polite, prompt, and positive can go a long way.
Parenting Plan – 120 Day Requirement
In Illinois, within 120 days after service or filing of any petition for allocation of parental responsibilities, all parents must file with the court, either jointly or separately, a proposed parenting plan. The time period for filing a parenting plan may be extended by the court for good cause shown (i.e., the parties are still going through mediation).
What Does The Parenting Plan Need To Include?
As previously mentioned, the judge will create a parenting plan for the parties that the judge believes is best for the child based on the 17 factors from the Illinois statute unless the parties provide the judge with an agreed parenting plan.
Whether you submit parenting plans separately or by agreement with your former partner, the parenting plan at a minimum must contain the following:
- An allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities (i.e., education, healthcare, extracurricular activities, and religion),
- The child’s living arrangements and for each parent’s parenting time, including either:
- A schedule that designates in which parent’s home the minor child will reside on given days or
- A formula or method for determining such a schedule in sufficient detail to be enforced in a subsequent proceeding,
- A mediation provision,
- Each parent’s right to access the child’s records (i.e., medical records, school records, etc.)
- Which parent will be designated as the parent with the majority of parenting time for purposes of the statutes,
- The child’s residential address for school enrollment purposes only,
- Each parent’s address, phone number, employment, employment address and phone number,
- Requirements with respect to parents changing his or her residence per the statutes,
- Provisions requiring each parent to notify the other of emergencies, health care, travel plans, or other significant child-related issues,
- Transportation arrangements for pick-ups and drop-off of the child,
- Communication with the child during the other parent’s parenting time,
- Future modifications of the parenting plan if specified events occur,
- If you want included, a provision with respect to right of first refusal,
- Any other provision that addresses the child’s best interests or that will otherwise facilitate cooperation between the parents.
It is critical that you contact an experienced child custody lawyer Bloomington IL who can tailor a parenting plan to your specific circumstances and protect your rights.
Agreed Parenting Plans
To constitute an “agreed parenting plan”, the plan must include the information described above and must be in writing and signed by both parents.
An agreed parenting plan is binding upon the court unless the court finds that the agreement is not in the best interests of the child. If the court does not approve the parenting plan, the court must make express findings of the reason or reasons for its refusal to approve the plan (i.e. child would be in an unsafe living environment, etc.).
If a parenting plan is not agreed to between the parties, the court must conduct an evidentiary hearing to allocate parental responsibilities. Because parenting responsibilities are so important, it’s critical to have a knowledgeable child custody lawyer Bloomington IL help you through this complex process.
If you have a child custody case in McLean County, schedule an meeting today through our online appointment calendar.
Continue reading to learn how child support is impacted by the custody arrangement/parenting plan.
A skilled child custody lawyer Bloomington IL can also help you obtain a child support arrangement that protects your financial future.
Child support is a very important financial issue that is often addressed in child custody cases in McLean County IL. Child support is usually awarded to the parent who has the child for more overnights. Getting primary custody of the child is typically the top priority for parents, but child support can be an important factor to consider.
Who pays child support and how much support is appropriate depends on several factors. The Illinois statute outlines these factors in detail. Koth Gregory & Nieminski uses advanced child support software that calculates the amount of child support our clients may receive or be required to pay.
Enforcement of Child Support
If a judge previously entered an order requiring your former partner to pay child support, but your ex is not making support payments per the order, contact a top child custody lawyer Bloomington IL.
First, your child custody lawyer Bloomington IL can file a motion for contempt with the court. The motion will describe your former partner’s refusal to abide by the court’s child support order.
After your child custody lawyer Bloomington IL files the motion for contempt with evidence of your partner’s failure to abide by the order, your ex will have the burden to show that his/her failure to pay was not intentional.
Once your child custody lawyer Bloomington IL obtains a contempt order against your former partner, your ex can either pay the past due child support voluntarily to purge the contempt order or incur more severe consequences.
The consequences of refusing to pay child support after a judge order it can include:
- Garnishments wages and bank accounts
- Interception of income tax returns
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Liens on property
- Court probation
- Jail time
Contact an experienced child custody lawyer Bloomington IL at Koth Gregory & Nieminski to handle all of your child support issues so that you can rest assured that your rights are protected and you get what you rightfully deserve.
One final area of family law that sometimes comes up because of child support issues, is establishing “paternity” or “parentage”.
Paternity (Now Known As “Parentage”)
Paternity is the legally established relationship between a father and his child. In Illinois, paternity changed to parentage to be inclusive of women who need to establish their parentage.
The court will not allocate parental responsibilities until parentage has been established. Parentage needs to be established if the parents were not married when the child was born. Still, it doesn’t mean allocation of parenting responsibilities are granted automatically once parentage has been established.
In McLean County, a person may obtain an order from the court for these rights through filing a petition to establish parentage and allocate parental responsibilities of a minor child.
The proper venue to file this petition which requests the court to establish parentage and allocate parental responsibilities is in the county where the child resides. If you are just filing a petition to establish parentage, then the proper venue is in any county in which a party resides. There also needs to be proper notice to the presumed parent about the petition to establish parentage pursuant to the Illinois statutes.
The parents may both complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (“VAP”) form if there is an agreement with respect to paternity and attach that form to the petition. A VAP must be completed, signed by both parties, witnessed, and filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (“HFS”).
If there is no VAP, you may request in your petition that the court order the other party to take a DNA test and request how the costs for the DNA test should be allocated among the parties.
For more information on parentage, custody, and support, and other family law issues, self-schedule an appointment today with an experienced child custody lawyer Bloomington IL.