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What are the laws governing child custody in Illinois?

When you are getting a divorce, often there are children involved and that means that there will be custody issues. The state of Illinois always tries to put the best interests of the child ahead of the needs of the parents. This is a good thing, but that means that without decent representation, you may end up sharing custody with an ex-spouse that may or may not be deserving of it.

You have the right to begin child custody proceedings after a divorce or a legal separation has occurred. This must happen in the county in which the child is permanently and currently residing.

Stepparents also have the right to file for custody; however, if this is the case, the child has to be over the age of 12, the parent and stepparent have to have been married for at least five years, or the stepparent must provide documentation that the parent he or she was married to is now deceased.

It also helps if the child wants to live with the stepparent because the court will question the child on this. The custodial parent must be proven to have been absent from the marital home for at least one month without the stepparent knowing where he or she was located.

You can easily see that the law has many ins-and-outs to it that you may miss without someone guiding you who is familiar with the laws of the state of Illinois.

If the surviving parent is incarcerated, this can trigger custody being granted to a stepparent as well. Many different charges apply here, such as violating probation, violating an order of protection or having a felony conviction. Of course, everyone involved in this custody proceeding must be officially notified so that a responsive pleading can be filed if they so desire.

Getting your child taken care of in a divorce or custody hearing is so important. You want what is best for him or her. You may want to have a legal professional involved who can assist you and answer your questions.

Source: Illinois Compiled Statutes, "750 IL CS 5/Illinois marriage and dissolution of marriage act" Dec. 17, 2014

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