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Determining the issue of child custody

Illinois couples considering the idea of dissolving their marriage must think in a critical way about the vital issues that accompany divorce. These issues include property distribution, spousal support and, in the event that the couple produced offspring, child custody. Spouses and their respective advocates may try to negotiate these issues and come to a settlement that suits both parties' interests on their own. However, if and whenever divorcing couples cannot come to an agreement regarding vital issues such as child custody, a family court will make binding determinations for them.

When determining the parent with whom a child will reside, the courts are not to discriminate against either gender. Fathers and mothers alike can qualify for primary custody provided that there are no issues of abuse of child endangerment attributed to them. The court is to make determinations regarding child custody with the best interest of the child in mind.

Children live with parents who have physical custody. When one parent has primary physical custody, the other parent may have visitation rights as dictated in the divorce settlement. It is also possible for divorcing spouses to arrive at a joint custody arrangement, wherein each parent lives with the child for an equal amount of time. Because many joint custody arrangements are worked out through mediation, it is important for individual spouses to retain the counsel and representation of family law lawyer, who may ensure that the parent's rights and interests are advocated during negotiations.

Moreover, the family law attorney may help ensure that an existing child custody order is enforced. In some cases, unscrupulous parents attempt to defy the terms of the divorce settlement, keeping a child longer than allowed.

Source: Fawell & Fawell, "Child Custody & Visitation", October 01, 2014

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