One of the most complicated steps of divorce is figuring out what to do if you share children. Most parents opt for a shared parenting plan, providing both are healthy, capable, and free of legal trouble. One step many parents opt to take during divorce to help determine what to do with the kids is to schedule child custody mediation. In Illinois, child custody hearings are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, among others. According to a publication of the State of Illinois, trial courts ‘have a special responsibility in cases involving the care and custody of children. This responsibility is carried out in court determinations that seek a resolution in the best interest of the child.
If the decision reached by the court is not satisfactory to any party in the hearing, he or she can appeal the decision. In 2004, the Illinois Supreme Court decided that appeals must be settled within 150 days after the filing of the appeal, as protracted legal battles are not in the best interest of the child. In fact, Illinois State Law dictates that all child custody hearings must be expedited, and that all subsequent hearings be scheduled before the other ends. Additionally, ‘the trial judge shall render its decision as soon as possible but not later than 60 days after the completion of the trial or hearing.’
If a family is involved in abuse, neglect, or dependency proceedings, the Child Protection Mediation Program is available for families in Cook County. These proceedings are meant to shield children from the public nature of trial cases, and instead allow for decisions to be made in a less threatening, mediated environment. Oftentimes the court will mandate mediation sessions, and while both parties are required by law to be in attendance neither party is required by law to come to an agreement.
If you or someone you know is facing divorce and child custody battles in Illinois, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Contact the Law Office of Van A. Larson, P.C. today.