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Springfield, Illinois Divorce Law Blog

What does it mean to have "joint custody" of a child?

32559092_S.jpgAs previously discussed on this Springfield family law blog, a child's best interests will guide matters related to their custody. To this end, different children may have very different plans that establish where they will live, if and when they will visit with their parents and how their custody will be divided. This post will briefly touch on one important way parents may share custody of their children, which is "joint custody."

Joint custody means that both parents have custody of their child. This can relate to physical custody and legal custody. As a review, physical custody concerns the right of a parent to have a child live in their home, whereas legal custody concerns a parent's right to be involved in making important decisions about their child's life. Both are important rights that parents can fight to retain after their relationships with each other end.

Why is it important to establish legal paternity?

22077733_S.jpgUnder certain circumstances, a child is presumed to be the offspring of a woman and a particular man. For example, when the child is born to a married Illinois couple then it is presumed that the man and woman are the child's biological parents. However, as readers of this family legal blog know, not all children are born to couples who have chosen to establish their relationships through marriage.

When questions exist regarding the parentage of a child, it is important for men to work toward establishing paternity. While the identity of a child's mother is rarely in question, the identity of their father can be less straightforward and can require testing to prove or disprove that a man is biologically related to the youth.

What are the best interests of a child?

41432381_S.jpgWhen a judge is tasked with the decision of determining child custody and/or visitation schedules, the first item he or she will take into consideration is commonly known as the child's "best interests." This is an all-encompassing term, which includes all aspects of a child's well-being.

The State of Illinois defines best interest in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Section 602.7. Custody decisions, especially modifications after divorce, are not made nor taken lightly. Every state has its own strict guidelines in place.

Assistance to facilitate adoption in Illinois

37681551_S.jpgAdopting a foster child who is currently under guardianship of the Department of Children and Family Services can be a complicated legal process. For that reason, it is important for those navigating the process to understand what they can expect and how to best address any potential issues as they seek a positive resolution.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has created a guide to inform adoptive parents of their rights and responsibilities in selecting and retaining an attorney to represent them throughout the process. That guide can be found here.

How do I get a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity set aside?

A previous post on this blog discussed how men in Springfield, Illinois, can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity as an easy way to become the legal father of a child.

Signing this Acknowledgement grants important fathers' rights to the man, but along with those rights, it also imparts important responsibilities, including the responsibility to support the child financially.

The Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity in Illinois

This blog has discussed on previous occasion how DNA testing works when it comes to paternity and what a Springfield, Illinois, father might expect if he decides to go to court to establish paternity.

However, there is another way that a dad wh13689271_S.jpgo is not legally married to the mother of his child can establish paternity quickly and efficiently. This option, called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, just involves properly completing a form prepared by the State of Illinois.

How grandparents can obtain custody

89016605_S.jpgAs this blog has explained previously, grandparents' rights are somewhat limited in Illinois, as the law of this state expresses a strong preference for a child's legal parents to raise that child and make important decisions on his or her behalf.

However, there is a way, called a guardianship, for Springfield grandparents to obtain child custody over the grandchildren, although this way is only available in limited circumstances, such as when neither of the child's parents are willing or able to care for their child.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

38961818_S.jpgOne unique aspect of military family law is that the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act may apply to child custody, paternity, divorce or child support actions involving an active duty member of the military, particularly when that person is deployed.

It is relatively odd that federal law regulates topics that are normally matters left up to the different states, but Congress thought it was appropriate that soldiers and sailors who were away serving the United States should not have to worry about various legal matters taking place at home, especially litigation that the servicemember simply cannot attend or devote time to.

How we advocate for a father's joint custody rights

72011011_S.jpgDue to a recent change in Illinois law, it is now more appropriate to talk about commonly known family law concepts such as "custody" and "parenting time" as an "allocation of parental responsibilities." Parental responsibilities include not only seeing one's child, but also how Illinois parents will make decisions on big issues like healthcare, religion and education.

In short, what was once thought of as joint custody is now just a subset of "parental responsibilities" that a court, or the two parents, must cover as part of a comprehensive parenting plan, which is supposed to lay down ground rules for a couple going through a divorce or other child custody case.

Parenting coordinators as resource in custody cases

38746099_S.jpgA previous post on this blog talked about how a guardian ad litem can be a valuable resource to fathers, as well as mothers, when it comes to solving a child custody case. This blog has also mentioned that mediation is a good way for parents to work out their issues regarding child custody and parenting time outside of court.

Yet another resource Springfield, Illinois, parents can use when working through a child custody dispute is a parenting coordinator. A parenting coordinator is not the same as a guardian ad litem or custody mediator, but they do many of the same things.

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