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Joliet parenting time restriction lawyerIt is generally presumed that it is in the best interests of children to have a relationship with both of their parents when the parents are not in a romantic relationship or marriage. However, this is a rebuttable presumption, and in certain circumstances, is negated entirely. Where one parent is causing harm to the child, it is the duty of the other to take steps to protect the child. It is important to understand the legal boundaries of what a parent may and may not do in an effort to keep the child safe. Harm may come in the forms of physical violence, emotional attacks, sexual abuse, neglect, or exposure to an unsafe lifestyle, such as criminal behavior or drug use.

A parent’s behavior need not escalate to the level of legal child abuse offenses to cause significant harm to impressionable children. If you feel that your child’s other parent is a danger to the child’s physical or emotional well-being, there may be steps an attorney can help you take, such as seeking a new parenting time allocation

Legal Tips for Mitigating the Harm of a Dangerous Parent

Even for those who were never married to their child’s other parent, the courts of Illinois are open to parents seeking to allocate parenting time and parental responsibilities in a formal legal arrangement. Potential steps that may be helpful depending on the specifics of your situation may include: 

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Orland Park child custody lawyerNo one wants to be involved in a child custody dispute, but if you have a difficult relationship with your child’s other parent, it can be tempting to resort to unsavory tactics to gain more parenting time. While many divorced or never-married parents dream of getting sole custody, it is rare in Illinois. Your desire to spend as much time as possible with your children is very understandable, but it is important to play by the rules. Here are some common tactics that you should avoid when you are involved in a child custody dispute. 

How Not to Fight a Child Custody Battle

You would do anything for your children, but some tactics are likely to backfire on you. Even if your child’s other parent is attempting these strategies, it is generally best to let your attorney handle it. It is easy for a guardian ad litem, judge, or child custody evaluator to tell when a parent is trying a tactic like: 

  • Coaching the child - “Coaching” a child means telling them what to say, either to the court or to the other parent. Some parents will train even very young children to say certain things that they think may sway a court. It is often very apparent to outside parties when a child has been coached. When a child is simply parroting what a parent has instructed them, they are often unable to provide consistent responses to other questions. 

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homewood-divorce-lawyer.jpgOne of the few reasons that divorced parents still need to see each other is to make custody exchanges. Generally, both parents need to be present at a child custody handoff unless there is an agreed-on third party with authorization to pick up or drop off a child. For parents whose divorce is still pending, these exchanges can be very tense. Both parents may be tempted to use child exchanges as a time to find fault in the other parent. For those whose divorce is far from amicable, handing off a child can even turn into an argument. It is important for both parents to know how to handle handing off a child in order to avoid further upsetting the child. When parents work together to put the child first despite their differences, the child is more likely to have a relatively smooth adjustment. 

Ways to Keep a Child Custody Exchange Safe and Civil

While not upsetting the child further is important, nothing is more important than safety for everyone involved. Some tips you may find helpful include: 

  • Do not talk divorce - This is not the time to try to negotiate the terms of your divorce. That should be done with attorneys present. Resist the urge to bring up any points of disagreement regarding your divorce or your child custody proceedings. 

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orland-park-child-custody-attorney.jpgAs a parent, your children are probably the most important part of your life. A parent’s greatest fear is losing their children. You probably cannot imagine your life without your children in it. So when you and your children’s other parent split and go to court for child custody, you hold out hope for the most possible time with your children. Nothing is scarier than hearing that the other parent is demanding exclusive custody. The prospect of your former spouse or romantic partner taking your children out of your life is enough to send any parent into full-blown panic. The good news is that demands for full custody very rarely succeed. In most cases, this fear is largely unfounded. However, it is critically important that you work with an experienced child custody lawyer who can fight to stop this from happening. 

When do Illinois Courts Give One Parent Full Custody?

This is a last resort option that is only used when one parent is genuinely harmful to their children. We see this happen almost exclusively in cases where one parent has abused the children or is extremely unstable. Even if your former partner manages to convince the court that you cannot be trusted alone with the children, supervised visitation is often used. Supervised visitation is not often a permanent arrangement. 

Fighting Back When Your Ex Demands Exclusive Custody

The following tips may help you resist your former partner’s demand for full custody: 

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joliet-child-custody-lawyer.jpgSibling relationships can be incredibly important for children. Siblings are often a child’s first and best friends. Even in blended families, step and half siblings may share a bond. When parents are splitting up, siblings may rely on each other for a sense of stability at a time when major changes are occurring. Illinois courts are often reluctant to separate siblings who enjoy a close relationship. However, this type of bonding does not occur for all children with acting parents in common. In some cases, sibling relationships are difficult or even abusive. In that case, the court may find that separating siblings is in the children’s best interest. If you are involved in child custody proceedings and have concerns about helping your children maintain meaningful relationships with their full, half, or even step siblings, an attorney can help you decide how to proceed. 

What do Illinois Courts Consider When it Comes to Sibling Relationships?

During any child custody proceeding, whether it involves a divorce or not, the deciding factor is always the best interest of the children. In determining what kind of custody arrangement would be right, courts will investigate what the children need and want. The court will consider the children’s emotional needs just as it will consider their physical needs. In many cases, a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed to help the judge understand what kind of living situation would be best for the children. Close sibling relationships are certainly something that can be considered. When possible, siblings will be given plenty of time together.

What if My Child Needs Protection from a Step or Half Sibling?

On the flipside, a harmful sibling relationship can also come into play. It is not uncommon for young children to face bullying or abuse from a much older sibling, especially in blended families. Courts will not purposely allow a child to be placed in a dangerous situation. If you are afraid that one of your children will be harmed by a sibling, this is definitely something that your attorney can make sure the court is aware of. Provisions can be made to ensure that your child is safe from a harmful sibling. 

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