Naperville Child Custody Lawyers


Navigating a child custody determination can be a very complicated and even stressful process, whether you are married and going through a complex divorce or are unmarried parents going through a separation. It can be difficult to balance your child’s needs while still respecting the rights and wishes of you and your spouse or the other parent. Enlisting the support of a Naperville child custody attorney can make this process smoother.

At Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC, we can handle the complexities of child custody proceedings with skill and passion. Our client-focused child custody agreement lawyers aim to secure the fairest and most reasonable outcome following Illinois state laws and the best interests of your child or children.

Naperville Child Custody Attorney


In Illinois, child custody is determined based on the “best interests of the child" standard. This means that the court will consider various factors to determine what would serve the child’s best interest and well-being. These factors can include the child’s wishes, the physical and mental health of everyone involved, either parent being unfit, the child’s involvement in their home, school, and community, and other relevant factors.

Illinois law does emphasize the importance of both parents being involved in their child’s life, and joint custody arrangements are common. The state uses the term “parental responsibilities” in child custody cases. Parental responsibilities include significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time.

Parents may share decision-making responsibilities or one parent may be allocated as the sole decision-making authority over choices about the child’s religion, healthcare, education, and extracurricular activities. The allocation of parenting time refers to the schedule detailing when the child will spend time with each parent. This schedule aims to ensure both parents get significant and meaningful time with the child.


Instead of using terms like “custody” and “visitation,” the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) allocates specific aspects of parental authority and time spent with the child. The key types of parental responsibilities are separated by sole or joint decision maker, sole or joint parenting time, or a hybrid arrangement.

If one parent is granted the sole decision maker, they have the authority to make the major decisions, such as the child’s education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. If it is decided that both parents will share the responsibility of making these major decisions, it is called joint decision-making.

Similar to decision-making, parenting time is also granted as to who has sole parenting time or if parenting time is given jointly. In sole parenting time, one parent has the majority of parenting time with the child, and the other parent has a schedule determined by the court. If joint parenting time is decided, both parents share time with the child, and the parenting schedule is worked out based on the child’s best interests.

Not every case can fit into these arrangements and may have a hybrid arrangement. This could be one parent has sole decision-making, but they both have joint parenting time, or they share joint decision-making, but one parent has sole parenting time. Also, in some cases, grandparents or other relatives may seek visitation rights. The court considers what is in the child’s best interest when deciding non-parental visitation.


In child custody cases in Naperville, Illinois, the court considers a range of factors to determine what arrangement is in the best interests of the child as outlined in the IMDMA. Some of the key factors are:

  • Child’s Wishes: While the court may consider the child’s wishes regarding child custody, the weight given to their preference depends on the child’s age, maturity, and the specific circumstances of the case.
    In some cases, the court may appoint a representative or guardian ad litem to advocate for the child’s best interests. These representatives investigate the case, interview the child, and make recommendations. Ultimately, the court aims to make decisions that promote the child's well-being, and the child's wishes are just one factor amongst many other factors.
  • Physical and Mental Health of Everyone Involved: The physical and mental health of everyone involved, including the parents, is assessed in terms of how it may impact the ability to care for the child. The presence of physical or mental health factors in the parent or parents does not automatically render them unfit. It depends on the severity of the condition, treatment history, limitations, and how it may affect the child.
    In addition, the child’s health and needs will be taken into consideration, as well as the ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs, including any necessary accommodations or treatments.
  • If the Parents Are Fit: The court will evaluate each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs. They will also see if there is any evidence of abuse or neglect, domestic violence, substance abuse, failure to provide financial or child support, violation of court orders, parental alienation, or any criminal activity.
  • Child’s Involvement in Home, School, and Community: The court will assess how well the child has adjusted to their home, school, and community. Stability and continuity in the child’s life are important considerations.
  • Work Schedules: Each parent's work schedules are considered and consider the ability to provide consistent care and support. Financial considerations might be a factor, as well.
  • Willingness to Cooperate with Court Orders: The court assesses each parent’s willingness and ability to comply with court orders related to parenting time and responsibilities.
  • Willingness to Encourage a Relationship with the Other Parent: The court assesses each parent's willingness to encourage and foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.


Having an idea of what the future process could look like will help alleviate some of the stress that comes with child custody cases. Although every case is unique and will require different things, there is a general outline for how the case will go. The steps are:

  • Preparing and Initiating the Legal Process: After consulting with an experienced child custody attorney, either parent or both parents can initiate the child custody process together.
  • Issuing Temporary Orders: If an immediate decision is needed, the court may issue temporary orders to establish a parenting plan.
  • Parenting Plan: The court encourages parents to create a parenting plan that outlines how they will allocate parental responsibilities. If they both can reach an agreement, it is generally approved by the court as long as it is in the child’s best interests.
  • Mediation: Sometimes, the court may order mediation to help parents reach an agreement on the parenting plan. This will include a neutral third party who will help facilitate communication and negotiation between the parents.
  • Court Proceedings: If the parents cannot reach an agreement through mediation, the case might proceed to court. This is when evidence and arguments about the parenting plan are presented.
  • Final Allocation Judgement: The court issues a final allocation judgment, which outlines the decision on how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be allocated. This judgment is legally binding and must be followed by both parents.

Although this is commonly how Illinois child custody cases proceed, it is important to remember that specific steps and procedures can vary depending on each unique case.


Sometimes circumstances may change, whether that be from medical emergencies, the loss of a job, or an unexpected death; one or both parents may need to adjust an existing child custody order.

In Illinois, a parent seeking a modification to a child custody order must be able to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original order. This process is similar to the original process and always considers the child’s best interests when evaluating modification requests.


Seeking legal counsel is the better way to understand the complexities of child custody. Many legal variables can complicate your case, and you don’t need to add more difficulties to an already difficult situation. Hiring the right legal counsel will help you understand the law, objective advice, legal procedures and paperwork, negotiation and mediation, court representation, knowledge of local jurisdiction, and protecting your rights.


This will vary based on several factors, including the complexity of the case and the lawyer’s experience. Legal fees are only one part of the overall cost of the legal proceeding. There may be additional expenses such as court filing fees, expert witness fees, and other related costs.

Who is responsible for the attorney fees can vary depending on the case circumstances and court decisions. Typically, each party is responsible for their attorney fees. However, there are situations where the court may order one party to contribute to or pay the entire amount of the other party's attorney fees. It is recommended that you consult with our child custody lawyers, who can provide you with more detailed information based on the details of your case.


Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC will provide experienced and passionate legal counsel for child custody and family law matters. We will gather everything we can to support your position in child custody court and determine the most effective approach for your case. Contact our Naperville, IL attorneys when you are ready to discuss your legal options, and we will help you navigate the complex Illinois court system.


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