Are my work habits and time availability a big deal when I’m fighting for Custody?

Family-thumb4441116Time to devote to the raising of the children is a factor that must be considered when examining custody.

In In re Marriage of Leopando, 106 Ill.App.3d 444, 435 N.E.2d 1312, 62 Ill.Dec. 340 (1st Dist. 1982), aff’d, 96 Ill.2d 114 (1983), pitted a doctor with a heavy practice load against a homemaker. In reversing the trial court’s custody award to the father, the reviewing courts noted that the father’s limited time for the child, his lack of knowledge of many aspects of the child’s life, and his proposal to hire full-time nannies for the child were sufficient reasons not to award him custody of the child.

In In re Marriage of Kush, 106 Ill.App.3d 233, 435 N.E.2d 921, 62 Ill.Dec. 123 (3d Dist. 1982), evidence of the parents’ work and school schedules was considered in the custody award. In In re Custody of Blonsky, 84 Ill.App.3d 810, 405 N.E.2d 1112, 40 Ill.Dec. 20 (1st Dist. 1980), the court held that working outside of the home becomes a less negative factor as the children reach the age of attending school all day.

But its not just about you being out of the home, its about all of the little things. The question is what is considered a great detriment to the child.

In In re Marriage of Kartholl, 143 Ill.App.3d 228, 492 N.E.2d 1006, 97 Ill.Dec. 347 (2d Dist. 1986), the father complained about the mother’s work schedule and the time the child had to be awakened to get to his babysitter’s, among other things, in his post judgment modification of custody petition. The working mother was pitted against the second wife of the father, a homemaker. While this action fell under the stricter rules of 750 ILCS 5/610, the father failed to prove that these facts were of great detriment to the child. Note that the strategy of the mother was very effective and is a good example of how to present evidence favorably:

a. When the father complained about the mother’s relocations, the mother noted that the most recent move was only five blocks and did not affect the child’s school, friends, babysitter, community, or activities.

b. When the father complained that the child had to be awakened at 6:30 a.m. to be driven to the babysitter, the mother testified that the child usually was awake when she came into his room to wake him.

c. When the father complained that the child had to be driven 23 miles one way to the babysitter, the mother emphasized how well the child and the babysitter got along and testified that the child’s maternal grandmother lived a block from the babysitter and occasionally picked him up. In addition, the father’s second wife testified that they used the same babysitter when the father had physical custody.

d. When the father argued that the child would be better cared for in his home by his second wife, a homemaker, the mother stressed that her position at a high school left her free for three months of the year.

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