Ask A Lawyer: Can I Get Any Custody Of My Daughter?

Question:

I went through a 3 year divorce and wanted to obtain 50/50 custody. I did not get that. The judge told my lawyer in his chambers that he didn’t award 50/50 custody. My lawyer has stated that there isn’t anything more she can do for me on this matter.

I feel that the cards where stacked against me. I am a great father to our 6 yr old, and she loves being with me. She told me that "fathers take care of daughters and that daughters take care of fathers".

I would love to talk to someone that can help me? I am tired of feeling like a second class citizen.

 

Answer:

Unfortunately, it appears from your comments that the court has already ruled.  If the time period for appeal or reconsideration has expired (usually 30 days, but varies by state), there may be little you can do at this time.  The laws and procedures of your state may limit when you may petition for a periodic review of the visitation schedule.

Shared parenting time is a hot topic of debate.  While many parents are able to make a 50/50 schedule work for their children, most judges are not going to force 50/50 time on an unwilling parent as 50/50 time requires a higher level of cooperation between the parents to share information and assure stability for the children.   The "usual" visitation of alternating weekends and some weekday time is viewed by many psychologists as more stable for the children and becomes the default schedule unless a case is made for variations, such as for parents with non-standard work schedules or who live in very close proximity to each other. 

Retaining an experienced domestic relations litigation attorney who is familiar with both the law and the local practices on the issue of custody is key to pursuing more than the "usual" parenting time.  Knowing what issues have been decided by the courts and what considerations your particular judge may find relevant are important parts of a litigation strategy, including consideration as to seeking a change of judge. 

If you are within the time to seek reconsideration, or have to wait until you can petition for a periodic review, you should retain a qualified attorney who is willing to pursue all aspects of the schedule situation.  In turn, you must be ready to commit to the time and expense, including the possible use of expert witnesses, that is often involved in pursuing more than the "usual" schedule.

 

 

Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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