The Chicago Family Law Blog

Child Custody in Chicago

Since no one can literally “split the baby” after a divorce, it’s up to the parents themselves to work out an arrangement as to where the children will live (which is then approved by the court). If the divorcing parents are unable to agree on a plan, then either a mediator or an Illinois family court judge will have to make that determination. While “physical custody” is awarded to the parent with whom the child primarily lives, legal custody is awarded to the parent responsible for deciding how the child is to be raised. Joint custody is an attempt to give both parents equal time with their child, the non-custodial parent often spends time with his or her child during a scheduled visitation.

A number of factors go into child custody decisions, including care-taking responsibilities, parental participation and general considerations of the child’s best interests. But when divorcing parents dispute custody claims, a seasoned divorce attorney in Chicago can best represent you and your child’s interests.

Recently in Child Custody Category

Siovaughn Wade Testifies For Five Hours In Custody Case

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The child custody dispute in Cook County Circuit Court between Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade and ex-wife Siovaughn Wade is in full swing, as the Chicago Tribune reported. And since the couple can't seem to agree on much of anything, it promises to get ugly.

Both Dwyane Wade and Siovaughn Wade, whose divorce was finally granted in June, are seeking sole custody of their two boys, ages 3 and 8.

James Pritkin, a divorce attorney in Chicago representing the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, attempted to paint a picture of Siovaughn Wade as irresponsible and erratic. He asked questions about her relationships, confrontations with past attorneys and court officials and her parenting decisions.

NBA Star Dwight Howard's Ex Asks For Visitation Guardian

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Orlando Magic basketball star Dwight Howard is the subject of complaints by ex-girlfriend and mother of his baby Royce Reed, according to celebrity news and gossip site TMZ. She said her ex regularly flakes out on scheduled visitations with their 2-year-old son and wants the court to appoint someone to supervise him whenever he has custody of their child.

Royce Reed, a former NBA dancer who was once slated to appear on the VH1 reality series "NBA Wives," claims Dwight Howard regularly misses visitations and is a deadbeat. You don't need an Illinois family law attorney to tell you that missing scheduled visitations doesn't help your case when revisiting custody arrangements in court.

NBA Star Dwyane Wade And Ex-Wife Begin Child Custody Trial

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Chicago's own Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat star basketball player, returned to a Chicago courthouse on Wednesday to square off against ex-wife Siohvaughn Wade for custody of their two sons, according to USA Today.

The Illinois family law attorney appointed to represent the 8- and 3-year-old boys filed a pretrial memo explaining the recommendations he plans to make at trial, including a suggestion that Siohvaughn Wade agree to "extensive therapy."

The trial is expected to last until about Sept. 20; Dwyane Wade is expected to report to the Miami Heat training camp on Sept. 28.

The 19th Century Case That Formed Basis Of Custody Law

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Many of our laws and statutes are based on centuries-old English customs and are known as common law, such as those forbidding murder and theft, as outlined by LawBrain. But others take time to develop, often through the court system, and often can be traced back to specific stories.

The divorce and custody dispute of a New York couple married in 1804, for example, set the groundwork for U.S. child custody law, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. Quite a bit has changed in the 200 years since, but the story provides a glimpse into the origins of current custody law.

Divorce & Child Custody: A More Collaborative Approach

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Several states are considering various pieces of legislation, according to the Christian Science Monitor, including a Massachusetts "father's rights" bill seeking to create the presumption of joint custody. Other states are mulling laws that would limit the duration of alimony payments.

And yet, as Chicago family law attorneys also would point out, the article highlights three fundamental problems unlikely to be addressed by new legislation that usually cause the most tension for families going through divorce:    

  1. Litigation costs of child custody and alimony disputes
  2. Deferring control of child care and financial decisions to the courts
  3. Extra stress placed on the children as a result of the antagonism caused by litigation

Woman Who Starved Daughter Won't Be Kept From Newborn

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A Seattle-area court denied prosecutors' request for an order to prevent a pregnant woman convicted of starving her infant child from having contact with her newborn, due in less than one month, the Seattle times reported. Brittainy and Samuel Labberton's two children were removed from the couple's custody after their infant was found starving; the mother also had threatened to kill their older child.

Prosecutor Sean O'Donnell told the court that Brittainy Labberton starved her baby because she thought the dangerously underweight child was getting fat. The homeless couple hopes to get their children back as they await the birth of their third.

Typically, courts base such decisions on the best interests of the child, as an Illinois family lawyer also would say.

Jesse James Granted Physical Custody Of Daughter

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Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Thomas Schulte ruled that celebrity mechanic and former Sandra Bullock hubby Jesse James is entitled to physical custody of daughter Sunny and can take her from California to his new home in Texas, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Six-year-old Sunny's mother, former porn actress Janine Lindemulder, was granted extended time with her daughter when the girl is on vacation from school. She had been granted shared physical and legal custody two years ago, but modified the order after she was convicted of tax evasion.

Richard Masson, Janine Lindemulder's attorney, asked the judge if he'd reconsider if his client also moved to Texas, prompting her to shout, "I'll move, I'll move!" Commissioner Thomas Schulte said he'd reconsider.

Prolonged Custody Battles Can Hurt Job Performance

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Divorce and child custody proceedings are stressful, anyone who's gone through the process would tell you, and this stress often carries over into the workplace. But workers can't afford to risk losing their jobs in the current economy, especially when considering the costs associated with a divorce and custody case, as a Kansas City Star article explores.

Fortunately it seems as though the legal community is paying attention.

Mitchell Karpf, who chairs the American Bar Association's Section of Family Law, organized a Families Matter Symposium last month as a way of addressing workplace stress and other concerns. It's likely that a few Chicago family law attorneys were in attendance.

Judge Grants Joint Pet Custody For 'Lucky' The Dog

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An article by the Maryland Daily Record (subscription), republished by the Family Law Prof Blog, tells the "shaggy dog" story of a divorced couple that was granted joint custody of their Lhaso Apso, Lucky. Usually, as explained by FindLaw, the law treats family dogs much like "a table or a lamp" when divorcing couples divvy up marital property.

So this is quite an unusual case.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a similar court order among Illinois' family court records, but Chicago family law attorneys might have a better handle on how the state's courts deal with family pets.

Mel Gibson, the actor and director famous for the "Lethal Weapon" series, is under investigation by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept. on allegations that he physically abused ex-flame Oksana Grigorieva, Fox News reported. He could serve as many as four years in prison if charged and convicted for felony assault.

The two have an 8-month-old daughter, Lucia Gibson, and are in the middle of a bitter custody battle. And as any Illinois family lawyer would attest, a domestic abuse conviction (especially on felony charges) would not exactly help the "Passion of the Christ" director's odds of gaining custody of his daughter.