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Child Custody Laws: Five Myths Debunked

Posted on in Child Custody

child custody laws, child custody myths, DuPage County family law attorney, joint custody, sole custody, award child custodyChild custody laws vary from state to state. What is important to remember, however, is that the outcomes of child custody cases vary. While there are some standard rules for determining who is ultimately awarded custody, no two cases are exactly alike. Therefore, various misconceptions regarding how courts handle these cases have resulted.

Myth 1: "A mother must be deemed ‘unfit' before a father can be considered for custody."

This is one of the more common misconceptions regarding child custody laws, and it is one that often leaves fathers bitter and cynical about the process. However, Illinois law does not favor a mother over a father during custodial disputes. A number of factors influence the decision, but none of these considerations involve the gender or "role" the parent plays in the family.

Myth 2: "Joint custody is assumed by the court."

Courts in Illinois do not hold joint custody as a starting point when reviewing a case. While it might be a suitable solution for some families, it is not always an ideal answer. The willingness and capability of a parent are reviewed along with a number of other pertinent factors such as military service commitments, substance abuse and mental illness.

Myth 3: "Siblings are always kept together."

Cases that involve more than one child are often more complicated. Illinois courts, depending on the decisions in regard to the abilities of each parent, take into account the wishes of the children. Hence, custody over siblings may be split. Also, another major factor in these cases is whether any of the children have special needs.

Myth 4: "Mental illness, substance abuse, and other related issues automatically make a parent unfit."

One fact to always keep in mind during child custody disputes is that there are no "hard and fast rules." Every case is unique. There are too many influencing factors to streamline every custody battle. One aspect of the case may not necessarily determine custody.

Myth 5: "The child(ren)'s opinion does not matter."

This can go either way. Some parents are under the impression that the child's voice can be the deciding factor for which a parent attains custody. Others believe it to weigh very little in court. The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, the law does in fact specify that the child(ren)'s opinions are heard by the court and are considered relevant factors. The preference, however, is based upon what the court deems to be the best possible option for the child, which may not be his or her choice.

If you have questions regarding child support, custody law clarification, or child visitation, our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at Stock, Carlson & Asso. LLC can review your case and guide you through the legal process. With 30 years of practice, we can help you maintain peace of mind and clarity during these difficult times. To schedule a consultation or to learn more, please call our offices at 630-665-2500.

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