CHILD CUSTODY & VISITATION
A Judgment of Divorce is composed of two parts; they are as follows:
A Marital Settlement Order or a Marital Settlement Agreement, which resolves financial matters.
A Parenting Order or Parenting Settlement Agreement.
The parenting order/agreement provides for either joint custody or sole custody. Most importantly, the parenting agreement establishes whether decisions regarding the child's lifestyle, welfare, education and religion will be made jointly ["joint custody"] or whether such decisions will be made by one parent ["sole custody"]. Furthermore, the parenting agreement allocates "parenting time" as between the parents.
Without question, no aspect of divorce is more critical than custody and parenting time with the child(ren). Unlike any other aspect of a divorce, one cannot place a monetary value on maintaining and nurturing the parent-child relationship.
Under Illinois law, the legal presumption will favor an award of joint custody--meaning that both parents are equally entitled to making decisions concerning education, health care and religion. As advocates, we are likewise most gratified to be part of cases where the parents put aside their differences in order to nurture the developmental health of their children.
However, the reality is that issues of custody are frequently very contentious. Where it is apparent that the parents are unable to co-parent, it is imperative that your attorney have the ability to fight for your custodial rights. An attorney equipped for such task must have the background and smarts required to effectively depose, and where appropriate discredit, psychologists/psychiatrists appointed to conduct a custody evaluation/recommendation.