Myths About Child Custody in Illinois Divorce Cases
When beginning the divorce process, it can be easy to get swept up in the societal expectations regarding how parents will raise their children together after separating. However, it is important for parents to understand how the law applies to their situation and use this information to address issues related to their children.
In Illinois, child custody is referred to as the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” In addition, Illinois law uses the term “parenting time” rather than “visitation” to better reflect the fact that both parents should be closely involved in their children’s lives. While attitudes about parents’ roles in raising their children have changed over the past few decades, many myths about how child custody is handled in divorce cases continue to persist. Here are some misconceptions many people have about child custody:
- Parenting Time Can Be Denied if Child Support Is Not Paid - Child support is implemented to allow children of divorced parents to continue to receive the financial support they would have had if their parents had remained married. In Illinois, child support is determined based on the income earned by both parents. It is important to understand that if your ex-spouse does not pay the child support they owe, this does not mean that you can physically keep their child from them. There are situations in which restricting or eliminating parenting time may be justified, but failure to pay child support is not one of them. Child support is a separate issue from parenting time, and a parent may face consequences if they interfere with parenting time in retaliation for non-payment of child support.
- Custody Is Always Given to the Mother - In Illinois, most courts prefer for parents to agree on a joint custody situation, although there are some situations in which sole custody will be granted to one parent. When a custody agreement can be reached, a parenting plan is put into place which states exactly who spends time with the child and when. Decisions about how parenting time is divided will be based on a number of factors, including the child’s needs, the parents’ wishes, and each parent’s history of caring for their children. If sole custody is appropriate, this decision is based on what is best for the child rather than the gender of the parent.
- Parenting Plan Changes Can Be Made Privately - Life situations change, and as your children get older, their needs will change as well. If you and your ex-spouse get along, it may feel simple enough to create changes to your parenting plan together without the need for involving the court. However, if there is ever a disagreement, the court will follow the original parenting plan rather than any private agreements. When making changes to the parenting plan, parents should always file a custody petition with the court, ensuring that the parenting plan can be legally enforced if it ever becomes necessary to do so.
Contact a Joliet Child Custody Attorney
When making decisions about the custody of your children, be sure you understand how the law applies to you rather than relying on common knowledge. An experienced Will County divorce attorney can answer your questions and provide you with certainty regarding your parenting plan. Call our office at 815-726-9200 to schedule a free consultation.