How Does the Court Determine Child Custody and Visitation in Illinois?

When you and your partner have children, family court is a nearly inevitable step in the process of divorce. Even with the best divorce attorney, discussing rules that dictate how often you see your children is stressful. Fortunately, these decisions are made with your children’s interests as priority number one.

Will I Get Full Custody?

If custody is determined through court appearances, there is a higher probability the children’s mother will end up with custody. Some outdated ideals of the equality of parenting have led to custody being awarded to the mother over 75% of the time.

Typically, there are specific criteria that determine the issuance of custody, like:

  • The child’s age
  • Existing levels of care provided by parents
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Parent’s ability to provide a safe environment
  • Whether one parent can provide a more consistent/ less disruptive transition for the child

However, many fathers report that they met the criteria for full or joint custody, but the court still awarded custody to the mother. This is one of the reasons divorce lawyers recommend mediation.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Mediation is a process of coming to an agreement with another person through the use of an unbiased third party. Many people find mediation can really help with divorce proceedings that haven’t been very genial.

What are The Advantages to Having Your Divorce Mediated?

Divorce mediation offers you a lot more control in the decisions being made. You will be joined by your divorce attorney but typically kept separate from your partner.

This technique is a great way to keep discussions civil, heads level, and outcomes fair.

The divorce mediation process is also far more cost-effective than going to court. In the US court proceedings can cost up to $20,000. However, the average divorce mediator cost in Illinois is between $150 to $600, which is typically split between you and your ex.

Another great benefit of mediation is the level of privacy the proceedings provide. Everything you say and every emotion your express is between you, your divorce attorney, and the mediator only. By contrast, in a courtroom all discussions are communal and can often lead to hurt feelings and resentment.

Maintaining congeniality while divorcing your spouse is vital for determining a fair custody and visitation schedule.

What Does a Typical Visitation Schedule Look Like?

If both parents are capable of caring for their children full-time, your divorce attorney may push for an equal visitation schedule. This is also known as a 3-4-4-3 schedule. With this type of schedule, one parent will get 3 days of visitation, followed by the alternate parent getting four days of visitation. Afterward, the schedule flips.

This basic schedule can be slightly adjusted to accommodate any distribution of custody.

What if My Ex is Refusing Mediation?

When it comes to divorces and custody arrangements, any good divorce attorney will recommend mediation. However, sometimes your partner may refuse to mediate.

While mediation may seem optional, courts can (and often do) order a couple to attempt mediation before filing a court date. These court orders make mediation a requirement.

If you and your divorce attorney show up to mediation and your ex doesn’t, you may get to determine the decisions for custody without their input. Although, A history of abuse on your end will affect those standards.

If your ex shows up for mediation but you cannot come to an agreement, you will likely need to go before a judge at a standard court date. Any decisions made by the judge at your court date will be considered final and binding, whether your ex shows up or not.