Child custody in Illinois: evidence basics

As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I tell clients that in a child custody case, most decisions will be made according to the child’s “best interests,” pursuant to Section 601 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA”). Therefore, in a child custody matter, a parent’s lawyer needs to apply the law to the sometimes confusing facts of a case.

Evidence in a child custody case in Illinois

Parents in a child custody case can be overwhelmed with evidence, or potential evidence. Part of the challenge is to determine what evidence is relevant, and what is not. It’s not productive to spend time on worrying about gathering evidence that would not be meaningful to a judge. Also, as I wrote in my article “Illinois child custody: Liars common, but not invincible,” lying in child custody cases is commonplace – proper evidence can be effective in defeating lies.

Evidence in a child custody case may include:

  • testimony from parents and others
  • social media websites (Facebook, etc)
  • photographs
  • videos
  • emails
  • text messages
  • psychological reports

Getting organized

Parents in a child custody case are rightfully concerned about the cost of the case. To minimize costs, it is important to use a lawyer efficiently.

When I help a parent gather evidence for an Illinois child custody case, I like to help the parent understand how to organize the evidence, and how to communicate its relevance. As a Chicago child custody lawyer, I know that my clients benefit when I spend less time sorting through mounds of evidence, and more time determining how to best utilize that evidence.

Keeping the goal in mind

In a child custody case, the major topics of disagreement are legal custody and parenting time. You will want to gather evidence that is useful for the goal you are trying to achieve.

Legal custody: Legal custody requires a determination of whether parents will have joint legal custody, or if one will have sole legal custody. Whether a parent has joint or sole custody does not determine how much time the child spends with each parent.

Parenting time (visitation): One parent may have sole legal custody, but a child still might spend equal time with both parents. Or, parents might share joint legal custody, but the child may spend 80% of his or her time with one parent.


About the author: Contact Illinois family law attorney David Wolkowitz at 312-554-5433 or online. He is a family law and divorce attorney serving Chicago and the Counties of Cook, Champaign, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. Areas of practice include divorce, uncontested divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, child support, and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”).