call us630-584-4800

Free Consultations

A Glossary of Custody Terms

Posted on in Child Custody

Untitled---2023-11-20T125541.405.jpgMost people might think they have a basic understanding of what is involved in a divorce, but the vast majority are not familiar with what the most common divorce-related child custody terms mean. In general, if you have never experienced something yourself, you will be less familiar with it. The same goes for divorce and child custody matters. If you have never had a reason to gain an understanding of all the important factors in a divorce settlement where children are involved, the chances are you might lack some understanding of what all the terms mean. If you are a parent considering divorce for the first time and are not sure what all the terms mean, a Kane County, IL child custody lawyer can answer all your questions and help you represent your best interests with the knowledge and confidence you need.

Knowledge Is Power

It is safe to assume that newly engaged couples setting out to get married are not typically thinking about how they would split their assets in the event of a hypothetical divorce. Even so, prenuptial agreements and even postnuptial agreements are a way for married couples to plan for something they hope will never happen. When you are young and healthy, you do not necessarily want to think about your eventual death. Nevertheless, many people draw up a will years before it would be relevant just to help make future planning that much easier. However, there is no parallel document regarding child custody. Not only would it be unusual for new parents of a newborn baby to try to think about how they would arrange child care in the event of a hypothetical divorce, but no document or agreement currently exists in US law for parents to plan how they would raise their shared children in such a case. 

That might help explain why some common child custody terms are foreign to people who have never been divorced before. That is why we want to offer you a glossary of terms that are important to understand before you set out on your divorce journey.

What Happens During a Child Custody Evaluation? 

Posted on in Child Custody

Kane County Child Custody lawyerChild custody issues can be complicated. Emotions are often running high and the parties involved are looking for a fair outcome. In many child custody disputes, each parent has a very different idea of what is best for their child.  This is why many courts use a child custody evaluation.

A child custody evaluation is an assessment of each parent's ability to provide for their children and the best interests of the children involved in the dispute. The court will appoint a neutral, third-party evaluator who has experience in family law or mental health counseling. 

Child Custody Evaluations in Illinois 

A child custody evaluation is conducted by an experienced, impartial professional who has expertise in both family dynamics and psychology. The purpose of the evaluation is to help the court make an informed decision about the best interests of the children. 

Preventing Holiday Parenting Time Disputes 

Posted on in Child Custody

St. Charles, IL parenting plan lawyerSharing custody of a child is no easy task. Divorced and unmarried co-parents must contend with many different parenting issues throughout the year. However, the holiday season can be an especially difficult time for families to get along. Children cannot be in two places at once, and parents and extended family may argue about which holiday gatherings children attend. As winter holidays approach, consider the following tips for preventing parenting time disputes.

Sharing Custody of Your Kids Over the Holidays

There is no way to completely avoid arguments and conflict during a co-parenting relationship. Disagreements and hurt feelings are bound to arise. However, with careful planning and preparation, you may be able to reduce the amount of conflict between you and the other parent. 

  • Review your parenting plan - Your parenting plan describes the allocation of parental responsibilities as well as the parenting time schedule. A well-written plan clarifies parenting time on holidays and other special occasions, too. Review your parenting plan before the holidays to avoid any confusion about who gets the children on what days. If you do not have a formal parenting plan, now is the time to sit down with the other parent and create one.

Kane County child custody lawyerIt is not uncommon for disputes regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities to become quite contentious. Emotions are running high and what is best for the child can become lost in the shuffle. The courts understand this and have designed a process to help ensure that children's best interests are always the top priority. Guardians ad litem (GALs) play an important role in these types of cases.

A "Guardian ad Litem" is a person, usually an attorney, who is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a minor child or children in such disputes. The Guardian ad Litem will investigate both parents’ side of the story and make recommendations to the court as to what they believe is in the child's best interests.

When is a Guardian ad Litem Assigned to a Case?

There are no hard and fast rules as to when a GAL will be assigned to a case. Generally, however, it will happen when the court feels that it would be helpful to have an objective third party involved. This is especially true if there are allegations of abuse or neglect. The court may also appoint a GAL if the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own regarding child custody issues. Either parent may also request that a GAL is assigned to a child custody dispute or divorce case.

Kane County Family Law AttorneyOriginally published: May 23, 2014 ---- Updated: September 12, 2022

The way Illinois describes child custody and visitation has changed in recent years. A parent's power to make major decisions about his or her child's upbringing is called "parental responsibilities." The time a parent spends caring for his or her child is "parenting time." Illinois courts encourage parents to work out the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time in a written agreement, but if the parents cannot agree, the court will make a decision.

If the parents have a "shared parenting" arrangement, each parent has the child at least 40 percent of the time. Child support calculations reflect the relatively equal amount of parenting time in shared parenting arrangements.

Back to Top