If you are going through a divorce with children involved, you will also have to go through child custody proceedings. Child custody, which is known as the “allocation of parental responsibilities” in Illinois, is one of the most emotional and hotly contested aspects of any divorce, since there is a lot on the line. In order to give your case the best chance of success in court, you should be sure to know what to do and what not to do. If you are currently going through a custody battle, make sure you avoid making any of the following mistakes that could sabotage your case:
1. Try to Alienate Your Children From the Other Parent
During a divorce, one parent may try to influence the other parent’s relationship with the couple’s children. He or she may not allow the child to call the other parent during visits, or he or she may speak badly about the other parent to the child. While this type of behavior is common in divorce cases, the courts do not view it favorably. A judge will typically view alienation as damaging to the child, and he or she may choose to restrict the parental responsibilities or parenting time of a parent who engages in parental alienation.
2. Yell at Your Spouse or Children
People sometimes “play dirty” during divorce proceedings, and your ex-spouse may go so far as to record your conversations. If you yell at or belittle your ex-spouse or child in any way, this can have a very damaging impact on your child custody case. While recordings made without your permission are not admissible in court, the mere existence of a record of your behavior can be damaging to your case. The only way to make certain that this type of behavior will not affect your relationship with your children is to never yell at your spouse or children or become violent in any way....
Being free to move about the country is one of the rights and privileges enjoyed by all Americans, and being divorced does not necessarily remove this option from the table, even if child custody is shared. For relocations of a significant distance, Illinois law requires a legal process to be followed, ensuring that the rights of both parents are taken into account, and most importantly, the best interests of the child. Ignoring these requirements can lead to significant consequences, including modification of the custody arrangement in favor of the other parent, so working with an experienced family law attorney to ensure the applicable rules are followed is critical.
In one recent case, a drawn out custody fight that now straddles the court systems in Illinois and Massachusetts illustrates how dire the consequences can be for violating parental relocation laws. This case includes an allegation of unauthorized parental relocation as one of the issues both courts are being asked to sort out, and the Illinois court issued an arrest warrant for the father after he failed to attend six hearings related to the relocation. Fortunately, conflict does not have to escalate to this level, as long as parents meet their legal requirements when relocating.
What Is Considered Relocation?
Not every move will trigger the provisions regarding parental relocation, just those likely to interfere with the other parent’s ability to participate in the child’s life. Thus, when a parent in Illinois who holds the majority of the parenting time, or shares parenting time equally, wishes to move with the child, court approval is necessary, if one of the following is true:...
In the past, a parent typically could relocate with his or her child anywhere within the state of Illinois. If the parent wanted to move outside of Illinois, he or she would have to obtain permission from the Court in order to do so. Changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that took effect on January 1, 2016, however, dramatically changed the rules for a parent who wants to relocate with his or her child where the parents are divorced or otherwise separated and draws a sharp distinction between the requirements for a parent moving with a child and relocating with a child.
Moving With Your Child
If the parent with which a child spends most of his or her time wants to move, he or she is generally able to do so without the permission of the Court. Under Illinois law, “moving” refers to a parent living in a new home that is no more than 25 miles away from the original home that is located in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake or Will Counties. Moving also includes moving to a new home that is no more than 50 miles away from the parent's original home if it is located in a county other than those previously mentioned. Despite this ability to move without Court involvement, however, a parent still should provide the child's other parent with his or her new address and telephone number....
Stepparents commonly adopt their stepchildren, and in the vast majority of these cases, the relationship continues for the duration of the parent and child’s life, as it does in any adoption. Yet stepparents, while divorcing their spouse, may attempt to renounce the adopted child as their own in order to get out of paying child support.
Normally, a stepparent does not have a duty to financially support his stepchildren, nor does he have an obligation to pay child support in the event of divorce. However, the act of adoption creates a legal obligation, even though the marriage to the child’s biological parent has ended.
Illinois Adoption Laws...
A Florida mother, who violated the terms of a child custody agreement by refusing to turn her four-year-old son over to the father for an agreed upon circumcision, finally consented to having the procedure done at the end of May. During the court proceeding, the judge advised the parents that as they continue to raise their son, disagreements need to be worked out through communication, and not by taking the law into their own hands.
Advice, however, is sometimes easier to give than to take. When a relationship ends because the spouses cannot get along, how are they supposed to work together to raise their children?
While it may not be easy, successful co-parenting is possible after a relationship has ended....
Questions regarding jurisdiction in Palatine child custody cases are common. Based on the specific circumstances of each case, the answers to these questions can differ from person to person. However, several general questions have similar answers.
What is jurisdiction?
Jurisdiction gives a Court the authority to decide a case. In Illinois, a Court has jurisdiction to decide a child custody case if Illinois is the child's home state. Therefore, a child must live in Illinois for a six-month period immediately preceding the filing of a petition....
A Florida mother recently filed suit in Federal Court to prevent her ex-husband from having their four-year-old son circumcised. However, a lower Court has ordered the woman to turn the boy over for surgery — she had previously agreed to allow the circumcision in a child custody agreement.
Illinois Joint Legal Custody
The default under Illinois law is to grant a child’s parents joint legal custody — an arrangement that can be granted even if one parent has primary physical custody. Joint legal custody means both parents have a right to make decisions regarding all aspects of a child’s life, including religious upbringing, education and medical care. Parents who share legal custody are therefore required to talk and come to an agreement on all issues, just as they would if they were still married....
The holidays are here, and for many families that means traveling out of state — whether to visit family or to simply get away from the cold Illinois winters and spend time on the beach. But if you are divorced and have a child custody agreement, can you continue to travel out-of-state with your children during the holidays? The answer is yes – but only if the other parent agrees.
Out-of-State Travel with Illinois Children
Illinois law requires each parent who is part of a child custody agreement to retain the other parent’s consent before traveling out of Illinois with the children for vacation. Parental consent is not required for in-state travel....
Whether a family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just the winter season, the holidays will be very different following a divorce. However, it does not mean that the holidays will be impossible. In fact, certain steps can be taken to help keep everyone happy.
Have a Detailed Child Custody Agreement
The first and most important suggestion for handling the holidays after divorce is ensuring a child custody agreement specifically deals holiday arrangements. There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach. A decided schedule will depend entirely on the circumstances of each individual family....
The Illinois Supreme Court rules require all parents involved in a child custody case, whether contentious or not, to enroll in parent education classes. Even if the one parent defaults or fails to participate in the proceedings, the other parent is required to attend the parent education class.Each Circuit Court or county may create its own parenting education program, provided it consists of at least four hours and covers visitation, custody and the impact both have on children. Each parent is required to attend the parent education class no later than 60 days after there is an initial case management conference. The Court may impose sanctions of its choosing on parents who fail to attend the class as required, without showing good cause as to why their attendance should be excused. The Circuit Court of Cook County has two approved parent education courses: one in-person class and an online option. Parents are able to choose the course. However, there is one exception. Parents who are ordered to attend mediation or emergency intervention must attend the in-person classes. The goal of parent education classes is give parents tools to help minimize the stress marital conflict can have on their children and to help them learn how to have a non-adversarial relationship after the divorce. The better the relationship between the parents post-divorce, the easier the divorce and its aftermath will be on the children. While parents work their way through the custody process, the classes provide them with skills to promote healthier communication as a means to reduce conflict. The in-person course has three options, depending on where each couple is in the child custody process:
- Pre-decree class: Parents in the process of a divorce or civil union dissolution.
- Post-decree class: Parents who have custody issues arise after the marriage or civil union has already been dissolved.
- Parentage class: Unmarried parents with children.
One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is dealing with child custody. The possibility of having to relocate or switch schools, in addition to spending less time with both parents, can leave a child feeling stressed, anxious and opinionated about the parent with whom he or she wants to live. However, when making an award of child custody or visitation, the Court must consider the child’s best interests. Additionally, there are a number of factors the Court must weigh. One factor is a child’s preference, pending the Court determines that the child has “sufficient maturity to express a preference.”
Best Interests and Child Preference in Illinois Custody Awards
Unlike some states, Illinois does not have a definite age at which a Judge must consider a child’s preference. Therefore, a Judge has wide discretion in determining whether or not to give any weight to a child’s preference, or even if a child will be allowed to express a preference....
Indicted by a Texas grand jury in September on charges of child abuse for using a tree branch to discipline his son, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson made the issue of corporal punishment and a parent’s right to discipline a national conversation. The question: "Can the use of corporal punishment have an adverse effect on child custody?" may have also crossed your mind.Corporal Punishment and Illinois Best Interests of the Child Illinois Courts make an award of child custody based on the best interests of the child. There are a number of different factors the Court must consider when making a custody determination. One factor is “the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s potential custodian, whether directed against the children or directed against another person.” So where does corporal punishment fall? Is it physical violence that can tilt the balance of what custody placement is in the child’s best interest against the parent who utilizes it? Or is corporal punishment simply a right of the parent that cannot be used as evidence of a parent’s use of physical violence? Unfortunately, Illinois law is unclear on the issue. A parent can be charged with Illinois child abuse if he or she “inflicts excessive corporal punishment” upon the child. But the law does not elaborate on what constitutes “excessive” corporal punishment. Is it two spanks, or 10? Can the parent use an object, like a whip, belt, or even a shoe to discipline? Or is anything other than an open hand considered excessive? Is it only excessive if the punishment inflicted leaves welts or other marks that last longer than an hour? The Illinois Courts offer a little guidance, consistently ruling that a parent’s right to discipline his or her child is “limited by a standard of reasonableness.” But nowhere in any of the decisions does the Court elaborate on what is and is not reasonable punishment. In addition, much of the commentary following Adrian Peterson’s indictment shows that what is considered reasonable varies among age, gender, socioeconomic status and even geography. This case is an example of how the law can sometimes fail to provide a clear-cut answer. In those cases, you need an experienced child custody attorney representing you. Resolution of this issue in your favor – whether you are arguing for or against the issue of reasonableness – depends heavily on your child custody attorney’s ability to make the Judge understand your point of view, and to persuade the Judge that being granted custody of your child is in his or her best interests. Nicholas W. Richardson has more than a decade’s worth of experience doing just that, and he will work tirelessly to for time with your child. Palatine Child Custody Attorney Even when the relationship is over and the divorce finalized, changing circumstances mean child custody may need to be revisited. If you are contemplating a divorce with children, or if you need a custody modification, you need an experienced family law attorney who understands the need to get the best possible outcome for your child, and can help you get it. Contact Palatine child custody attorney Nicholas W. Richardson today to schedule a consultation.
Illinois Fathers and Sexual Assault
An Illinois law enacted in 2014 denies child custody or visitation rights to men who father a child through sexual assault or sexual abuse, regardless of actual criminal conviction for the assault. Prior to enactment of the new law, a man usually had to either be convicted of, or pled guilty to, any type of criminal sexual assault to automatically be denied custody of, or visitation with, his child.
As previously written, custody or visitation could only be denied if the father had been convicted in a criminal Court of law. Recognizing that many women choose not to press charges against their rapist, and that an acquittal in a criminal Court means only that the prosecution could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt – not that the accused was innocent – the Illinois legislature chose to revise the law....