The most intimidating aspect of ending an unhappy marriage is the impact it will have on your parenting rights. Most people have heard stories about tragic custody outcomes that deprive loving parents of access to their children.
Such nightmare scenarios intimidate some people into staying in truly unhappy relationships, despite the likely exaggerated or outright fictitious nature of such stories. There’s a lot of misinformation shared about parental rights and responsibilities which leads people to make impractical decisions in their family law matters.
Those who understand the rules that govern custody matters in Illinois may feel more comfortable asserting their rights in family court. What guides the big decisions about parenting time and the allocation of other parental responsibilities, like decision-making authority?
The children are the focus of all decisions
People all too often frame custody matters as an issue of parental rights, when truly the concern should be what would be best for the children. That is exactly the standard imposed by Illinois family law.
If you go to court and have a judge resolve custody disagreements between the two of you, the best interest of the children is the most important standard for decisions related to the children. Judges have to learn about the relationship each parent had with the children already, the unique needs of each child and numerous other considerations.
They must then reflect on those unique circumstances when deciding how to divide parental rights and responsibilities. Unless there is some kind of evidence showing that one parent might endanger, abuse or neglect the children, shared parenting time is the standard for most families.
Of course, while sharing parental authority and parenting time is normal, that does not inherently mean every custody situation results in a 50/50 division of parenting time and responsibility. Everything from the children’s preferences when they are older to the careers of the parents can influence what a judge decides would be best for the family.
You don’t have to rely on a judge’s opinion
Families going through significant changes always have the option of resolving their matters on their own and then having the courts approve their proposed solutions. Rather than preparing for litigation, what you may need to do is start looking into ways to negotiate and cooperate with the other parent of your children.
Mediation and co-parenting therapy are both valuable tools for those who will have to continue working together for the sake of their children even after the end of their romantic relationship with one another. In scenarios where you are able to cooperate, you can take a lot of the fear and uncertainty out of child custody negotiations.
Learning more about the Illinois approach to parental rights and responsibilities can help those worried about their relationship with their children as their family undergoes changes.