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Chicago, IL Child custody lawyers (358 attorneys, 3159 reviews)

Compare Child Custody attorneys near you. Read reviews and contact them directly.

  • The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C.
    180 N. Stetson Ave., Suite 1300, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    An aggressive family law attorney who can help you take control of the situation. Call today.
  • The Witt Law Firm, P.C.
    321 North Clark Street, Suite 500, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    Tanya Witt earned her law degree from Harvard Law School in 1994. Ms. Witt represents men and women in divorce and accepts cases in the counties of Cook, Kane, DuPage, and Lake. In addition to divorce, Ms. Witt handles child custody matters, prenu...
  • Williams & Farmer - A Family Law Firm
    211 W Wacker, Suite 1100, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    Helping couples and children save time, money, and emotional trauma. Call for a free consultation
  • Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices
    105 W. Madison St. Suite 2200, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    Jason G. Shore is an associate with Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices concentrating his practice in litigation of complex family law matters, immigration, and bankruptcy. Mr. Shore is also fluent in Spanish. Mr. Shore is acutely aware that when an ind...
  • Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC
    180 N. LaSalle St Suite 3700, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 9.8  
    Amanda Oliver is a founding partner of Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC. Ms. Oliver has dedicated the 11 plus years of her practice to family law cases involving child custody, visitation, child support and parentage matters, estate valuation and account ...
  • 200 N. Lasalle St., 30th Floor, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    Jason’s practice is committed to achieving the best possible outcome for high net-worth individuals and their spouses in regards to complex divorce and custody disputes.  Jason is empathetic to the difficult emotions surrounding divorce and makes ...
  • Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd. A Professional Corporation
    19 South La Salle Street, Suite 1500, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    Arthur S. Kallow is a native Chicagoan and graduated from the Northwestern University School of Law cum laude in 1973. He also received his B.A. in political science from Northwestern. Mr. Kallow was awarded a certificate from Notre Dame Law Schoo...
  • Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.
    22 West Washington, Suite 1500, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    Caring, experienced, and realistic family law attorney. Call 630-315-0398 for free consultation.
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    Kazmar | Feely LLC
    401 N. Michigan, Suite 1200, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    Chicago & Suburban Offices. Superior Family Advocacy for Nearly 30 Years. Skillful & Compassionate.
    Read more

    Practice area
    15% Child custody, 33% Divorce and separation, 16% Child support, and more.

    Free Consultation
    Some lawyers offer a free consultation to help determine whether their services are right for your legal needs
    45 minutesHourly Rates, $350-$450/hour

    IL, Active since 1987

  • The Attorneys at Walczak Hernandez, P.C.
    3354 N. Paulina St., Suite 200, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    As an attorney I thrive to help everday people navigate the legal system to solve their problems. These legal issues include divorce, child custody, LGBT discrimination claims, real estate closings, and much more. My want to help individuals is n...
  • The Law Offices Of Maria M. Barlow LLC
    8348 S. Stony Island, Chicago, IL
    Avvo Rating: 10  
    Attorney Maria M. Barlow is licensed by the Supreme Court of Illinois as well as the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Attorney Barlow was born, raised, and lives in Chicago--a true Chicago native. My office provides affor...


If you’re going through a divorce with children, you’ll need to determine where and with whom your children will live. A child custody lawyer can help you negotiate custody, either by agreement or in court. If you as parents can’t agree on child custody, a judge will decide for you. Continue reading to learn more about the process and costs of child custody cases in Chicago and Illinois.

Types of Child Custody

Legal Custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make major decisions about a child's welfare, health, and education, including:

-where a child will go to school

-whether a child will engage in religious activities, and

-whether a child should receive medical care (except in emergency situations).

Joint vs. Sole Legal Custody. Legal custody can be shared (joint) or sole. In Illinois, joint legal custody means that both parents share in the right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child. The fact that parents share joint legal custody, however, doesn’t mean they will share joint physical custody.

Sole legal custody means that only one parent has the right to make all major decisions relating to the child and can do so without the other parent's input. The fact that a parent has sole legal custody doesn’t mean that parent will also have sole physical custody.

Physical Custody. Physical custody refers to where a child will live after a divorce or separation. The parent with physical custody has the right to have the child physically present in the home. If a child lives exclusively or primarily with one parent, that parent is usually referred to as the custodial parent, while the other is the noncustodial parent and typically has visitation rights.

Joint vs. Sole Physical Custody. Joint physical custody means that both parents have significant periods of physical custody. If a child's time is divided equally—or close to equally—between the parents, they are sharing joint physical custody. Sole physical custody means a child resides with one parent, subject to the court's authority to order visitation time with the other.

How Is Child Custody Determined?

In Illinois, judges decide custody according to what is in the best interest of the child. To decide a child’s best interests, the court will consider many factors, including:

-each parent’s wishes regarding child custody

-the child’s wishes about which parent will have custody (if the child is over 14)

-the child’s relationship with the parent(s), sibling(s), and anyone else who may affect the child's best interest

-the child's adjustment to home, school, and community

-the mental and physical health of everyone involved

-whether there’s been physical violence or a threat of physical violence by the child's potential custodian, whether directed against the child or another person

-whether there has been ongoing or repeated domestic violence, whether directed against the child or another person

-the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child, and

-whether either parent is a sex offender.

Legal Custody. Parents usually share joint legal custody, unless one of the following is true:

-the parents are completely unable to make decisions together

-one parent is deemed unfit

-one parent is incapable of making decisions regarding the welfare of the child, or

-it would be in the child’s best interests for only one parent to have sole legal custody.

Physical Custody. Unlike some states, Illinois doesn't presume that joint custody is in the child's best interests. Judges will consider all relevant factors in deciding what physical custody schedule best serves the child.

What Goes Into a Custody Agreement?

In Illinois, a custody agreement is referred to as a parenting plan. Generally, a parenting plan should cover physical custody and include a detailed schedule for when the child will be with each parent, including:

-where the child will be for holidays, summer vacations, and special days like birthdays

-how the child will get from one parent to the other (transitions), and

-who will pay the costs of transportation.

Your agreement should also cover legal custody and how you will make decisions about your child’s health, education, and welfare including:

-daycare and/or which school(s) the child will attend

-whether the child will practice a certain religion, and

-how decisions about medical and dental care will be made.

If you have questions, speak to a local child custody attorney for advice.

The Average Cost of Child Custody Case in Illinois

Each family is unique, and each custody case presents its own specific circumstances which will play a major role in how long a custody case will take and how much it might cost. When parents agree on all of their custody issues, the total cost will be on the lower end. If parents can’t agree or have a prolonged custody dispute in court, the total cost will be significantly higher.

While we don’t have specific data on the cost of a custody case in Chicago or Illinois, we do know that in one survey, readers who had disagreements over child support and/or custody paid an average of $15,500 in total costs—including $13,500 in attorney’s fees and $2,000 in other costs.

Attorney’s fees represent the largest chunk of divorce costs. Because attorneys in the Chicago area charge higher hourly rates than other areas of Illinois, custody cases in Chicago will likely cost more than in other parts of the state.

For more on child custody in Illinois, and questions asked in Chicago, see our free legal advice page.