Tag Archives: legal custody

Adoption & Guardianship in Illinois

guardianship, adoption, DuPage County family lawyersFor children placed in foster care, there can be an intense desire to be placed in a stable home with a loving family. Over the past decade, programs sponsored by the State of Illinois have helped place over 15,000 children into permanent homes. The decision to bring a child into the home is a life-changing decision for a family and the adopted child. Illinois allows for two processes to take place in order to place a child permanently in a home – adoption and guardianship.

Adoption is a legal process through which an adoptive parent assumes all rights and responsibilities of a child in foster care, including the care, supervision, and custody of the child, as if the adoptive parent actually gave birth to the child. Adoption terminates the rights of the birth parent. Adoption can occur through one of four avenues:

  1. Agency assisted adoption – an adoptive parent works with a licensed adoption agency to adopt a child within the United States;
  2. International adoption – an adoptive parent works with a licensed adoption agency to adopt a child outside of the United States;
  3. Private adoption – an adoptive parent works with an adoption attorney to adopt a child within the United States; or
  4. Foster care – an adoptive parent becomes a licensed foster parent and provides long term care for a foster child. If the child is not able to return to the birth parent, a foster parent can convert to an adoption.

What Is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal process to permanently place children who are not allowed to return home to the birth parent or adoption is not an option. A guardianship proceeding is usually a good option for caregivers or family members who want to provide a permanent home for children in their care. Unlike adoption, becoming a guardian does not terminate the birth parent’s parental rights. The appointed guardian would only be responsible for the care, supervision, and legal custody of the child. The guardianship expires when the child reaches 18 years old.

Resources Available to Parents

Because the adoption and guardianship processes create big changes in families, Illinois has a number of resources and training programs available to help families after the adoption or guardianship has been finalized. A six-hour in-service training program is available to instruct families on how to be an effective advocate for your child, the rights of the adoptive parent/guardian and the child, special education services, and understanding childhood trauma and the implications on education. A lending library and free webinars are also available to help educate families on parenting techniques and ways to deal with many different situations that may arise when parenting your child.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

If you are interested in adopting a child or obtaining a guardianship over a child, it is important to contact a knowledgeable family law attorney to discuss your available options. An attorney can help you navigate the difficulties of the adoption or guardianship process. Contact our caring DuPage County family law attorneys for a consultation.



How Judges Make Child Custody Decisions in Illinois

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, non-custodial, parental rights, shared parenting, One of the most important pieces of any divorce proceeding is the child custody portion. During the child custody phase, the court determines how the parents will raise any children who resulted from the marriage. This can mean developing a custody arrangement where both parents share control of the children, or giving custody to one parent over the other. The high stakes of child custody decisions means that parents entering a divorce often look to divorce lawyers to make predictions about the outcome of child custody decisions. Unfortunately, Illinois law makes it difficult to predict how judges will rule when making custody decisions.

Types of Custody

There are two different ways to classify custody, and each is important for the purposes of divorcing parents. The first distinction is legal custody versus physical custody. Legal custody is the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child. As a parent that will affect how the child is raised, such as what school the child attends. Physical custody is a much more direct form of custody. Physical custody determines which parent has actual physical control over the child during their upbringing.

Custody can also be distinguished along the lines of sole custody versus joint custody. Sole custody occurs when the court awards custody to just one parent, while joint custody is the situation in which both parents share custody of the child. For instance, joint physical custody is a common outcome of divorce that likely involves the court developing a schedule where the parents trade off control of the children based on days of the week or month.

How Courts Decide Custody

Parents considering a divorce often want a clear answer to how child custody decisions will come out. Unfortunately, the law makes such answers difficult to provide. Illinois law charges judges with the duty to make custody decisions with the best interests of the child in mind, and gives them a large amount of discretion with which to make those decisions. However, that does not mean that the law provides no guidance. Illinois law includes a variety of factors that judges should consider when making child custody decisions, such as:

  • The child’s relationship with various significant people such as parents and siblings;
  • How the child is currently situated within their community;
  • Any acts of violence or abuse by one of the parents;
  • A parent’s membership in the armed forces; and
  • Whether the custodial parent would be willing to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent.

Child custody is one of the most important pieces of any divorce. If you are considering filing for divorce and want more information about child custody issues, contact a skilled DuPage County divorce attorney today to learn about your rights.

Understanding Child Custody

parenting time, visitation, Illinois family law attorney, One of the central issues of any divorce is that of child custody. However, despite its importance to everyone involved, many people do not fully understand the different types and components of custody. For instance, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows for either joint or sole custody.

These two types of child custody relate to whether one or both parents have custody of the child, and they cover related issues like shared parenting time. Beyond this distinction, the law actually recognizes two different types of custody, physical custody and legal custody. Each of these two different types of child custody are important because each provide different rights with respect to the child.

Joint vs. Sole Custody

The legal distinction between joint and sole custody is one of how many parents have custody over the child. With sole custody, only a single parent has custody of the child, taking care of them full time. However, this may still include some forms of visitation. Additionally, a parent may be awarded sole physical custody with joint legal custody, a distinction that will become clearer later.

The opposite of sole custody is joint custody. In this child custody setup, the parents share physical and legal control of the child. While the law makes this an option to judges, it is not available to all parents. Instead, the court looks at whether it believes the parents will be able to cooperate in matters related co-parenting. This is because joint custody situations with uncooperative parents can often be difficult for the children to cope with. Notably, joint custody is not the same thing as having equal parenting time. As usual with family law, the court sets the parenting schedule in accordance with what the court perceives to be the child’s best interests.

Physical vs. Legal Custody

The other distinction that the law draws in relation to child custody is that of physical custody versus legal custody. Physical custody is the type of custody that people most often think of when they think of custody. It refers to the physical control over the children, issues like whose houses they stay at, when, and similar concerns. Legal custody is a more nebulous right, but one that is just as important. Rather than dealing with the physical issues of raising a child, legal custody pertains to control over decisions which need to be made about the child’s upbringing. For instance, legal custody gives parents a voice in decisions about what school the child should attend and what religion they should be raised in.

If you are thinking about filing for divorce or have recently been served with divorce papers, reach out to an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney today. Our team of experienced professionals is here to represent your rights and to help you understand this complex legal process.