Domestic Violence in Illinois Child Custody Cases
Despite implementation of tougher domestic violence laws in the past two decades, each year thousands of Illinois residents are victimized. In 2013, Illinois domestic violence programs served 44,318 adults and 8,168 children. Illinois child custody laws consider the presence of domestic violence when making an award of custody. Unfortunately, this means that some parents will make false allegations of abuse in an attempt to gain custody.
If you are in the midst of a child custody case that involves domestic violence allegations (whether you are the victim or the victim of false allegations), you need an experienced Palatine child custody attorney who understands the dynamics of domestic violence and the potential implications on your case.
Domestic Violence as Best Interest of the Child Factor
When making custody decisions, the Court must consider the best interest of the child. Two of the factors the Court must consider are whether:
- Either parent has been physically violent (or threatened physical violence) toward the child or another person; and
- There is ongoing or repeated abuse against the child or another person.
Ongoing abuse includes physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, interference with personal freedom or willful deprivation.
However, past incidents of domestic violence are not enough to justify an award of custody to the non-abusive parent. The Court must find that there is ongoing abuse, and without such a finding, the Court must assume that joint custody is in the child’s best interest.
What does that mean for your custody case?
This means that past domestic violence between you and the other parent, or if the other parent abused the child in the past, does not guarantee that the Court will award you sole custody. The law presumes that the child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being is best served by two parents making decisions about their life. If one parent has sole legal custody, he/she is entitled to make all decisions, regarding where the child attends school, medical decisions and where the child lives, without seeking input from the other parent.
Instead, you will have to prove a pattern of abuse that has continued throughout the years. There is no set number of incidents that must have occurred for the Court to decide that abuse was ongoing. Each case is fact specific that makes it important that you meet with an experienced family law attorney to review your case.
Palatine Family Law Attorney
Domestic violence allegations can impact an award of child custody. If you have been a victim of domestic violence, showing a pattern of ongoing abuse is a necessity to ensure the continued safety of you and your child. If you are the victim of false allegations of domestic violence, proving to the Court that the claims are false is vital if you wish to be awarded custody of your child. You need an experienced family law attorney who understands the impact domestic violence plays in child custody cases. Representing clients in Palatine, Schaumburg, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows and throughout Cook, DuPage, Kane and McHenry Counties, the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., has the experience and compassion you need to help in these delicate cases. Contact his office today.