How do custody disputes and child support issues get resolved in Illinois?

J. Alex Jacobson

Answered by:
J. Alex Jacobson

Located in Chicago, IL
Berger Schatz

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When parents have a dispute over the custody of their children, Illinois law requires them to try mediation to resolve the disagreement. Illinois courts favor mediation as a way to reach agreements while avoiding the financial and emotional costs of litigation, especially where children are involved.

If the parents cannot agree after mediation, the court will resolve the dispute by making a determination of what is in the children’s best interests. In reaching that determination, the court may appoint a lawyer to act on the children’s behalf, either as a representative of the court (Guardian ad Litem) or as an independent advocate on behalf of the children’s best interests (Child’s Representative) or as an adversarial advocate for the children (Attorney for the Child). In some cases the court may appoint a mental health professional to conduct a custody evaluation, which involves interviewing the parents, the children and other concerned parties, and then making a custody recommendation. If the parents still do not agree, the case will go to trial: Illinois law requires that custody proceedings generally must be resolved within 18 months from the initial filing.

When disagreements about the amount of child support one parent must pay the other parent are litigated, each parent is required to prove his or her financial situation by completing a sworn affidavit setting forth the parent’s income, expenses, assets and liabilities, and submit supporting documents such as tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. Using that information, the court will compare each parent’s available income and expenses. Then, based on the Illinois child support guidelines, the court will decide how much child support one parent must pay the other parent each month. Under Illinois law, failure to pay child support can result in a suspended driver’s license or up to six months' imprisonment.


Answered 10/14/2013

Disclaimer: This answer was provided by an attorney selected to Super Lawyers, and is intended to be an educated opinion only. This answer should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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