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IL custody lawyerSupervised visitation arrangements are often used in lieu of sole custody when one parent is unfit to be left alone with their children. The goal of supervised visitation is to allow children to maintain a relationship with both parents while also keeping them safe from any harm one parent could potentially cause. Supervised visitation involves having a trusted, responsible adult present while the unfit parent spends time with their children to ensure the children’s safety and wellbeing. Often, in cases where one parent initially asked for sole custody, supervised visitation works as a good compromise. If you are a parent in a situation where your children’s other parent could be a threat to them in any way, you should speak with a lawyer about the possibility of using supervised visitation. The children’s interests always come first in any Illinois child custody case.

How Does Supervised Visitation Work in Illinois?

Supervised visitation can take several forms. It can mean that the other parent will be able to have normal visitation in their home, but a designated adult the court trusts must be present at all times. Overnight visits are very rarely permitted when supervision is needed. In some cases, the parent requiring supervision will not be permitted to have the children in their home but can spend time with them in a public location like a park or a restaurant. This is often used when the main problem is that the parent cannot provide a suitable living environment for the children.

Designated visitation centers are another option. This is the most restrictive form of supervised visitation. The parent who must be supervised will only be allowed to spend time with their children in a facility specifically designed for supervised visitation. These centers are staffed by trained individuals and have stringent rules parents must follow, such as “no cursing.”

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IL family lawyerIn Illinois, the presumption is that it is in the child’s best interest to have some type of relationship with both parents. In general, courts want to keep both parents involved in their children’s lives. In the vast majority of child custody cases, both parents will be granted some parenting time and some share of the parental responsibilities. However, there are outlier cases where one parent is so harmful or dangerous to their children that allowing them to spend any time at all together is simply not in the children's best interests. In these cases, it may be possible for one parent to be given exclusive access to their children. If you are in the type of situation where you feel that getting sole custody is necessary to protect your children, you will need to get in contact with a well-qualified child custody attorney as soon as possible. Obtaining sole custody in Illinois is not easy.

Under What Circumstances Could Sole Custody be Possible?

Courts will often resort to using supervised visitation before they will sever the relationship between a child and one of their parents. While you may not like it, supervised visitation is generally safe, as there will be a responsible and trusted adult present to keep an eye on things. That said, there are some circumstances under which courts will consider giving one parent exclusive custody, such as:

  • Abuse - If your co-parent has a history of abusing your children, spending any time with the abuser could be harmful to the children. Your children may be fearful of the abuser to the point where having to visit them would be upsetting or even traumatic. Even with supervision, children may experience intense emotional disturbances if forced to spend time with the parent who abused them. Courts may refuse visitation to a parent who has been abusive.
  • Criminal activity - Simply having a criminal record is not enough to show that the other parent is unfit for shared custody. Quite a few people with some criminal history manage to turn their lives around and parent responsibly. However, if your children’s other parent is still engaged in a pattern of criminal conduct - for example, if they are a drug dealer or in a gang - then the court may not want them to have any access to their children.
  • Mental illness or substance abuse - A lot of excellent parents are in substance abuse recovery or are managing mental health issues. However, if your co-parent’s ongoing substance abuse or unmanaged mental illness is so severe that they cannot be trusted around vulnerable children, the court may consider sole custody.

Even if you are given sole custody, there is a chance that the order could change later. If the other parent makes substantial changes to their lifestyle, like going to rehab and staying clean, the custody issue could be revisited in the future.

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Il family lawyerThere is a mass incarceration crisis in America. Our country has a higher percentage of people in jail or prison than any other country in the world. Fully one out of five incarcerated individuals in the world is in an American correctional facility. Many of these inmates are parents. Having legal problems does not make someone a bad or harmful parent. Often, it remains in the best interests of the child to have the incarcerated parent be part of their life as much as possible. However, there is a limit to how much parenting time one can have while they are locked up. In Illinois, courts are beginning to recognize the value of helping children maintain a relationship with an incarcerated parent during child custody cases. A lawyer can help you understand how incarceration could affect your custody case.

What You Need to Know About the Impact of Incarceration on Child Custody

While a parent who is in jail or prison cannot have primary physical custody, visitation is a possibility. Courts consider a variety of factors before making a custody decision in any case. When one parent is incarcerated or anticipates being incarcerated, the court has a bit more to consider. Some facts you should know about the impact of incarceration on child custody issues include:

  • Guardian ad Litem - It is very likely that a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed to help the court better understand what the best course of action for the child might be. This individual’s role is simply to talk with your child and assess what is in their best interest.
  • Visitation - Getting parenting time during incarceration is not impossible - many judges will still award an incarcerated parent some parenting time. While your child’s other parent will have primary custody, it can be arranged to have your child visit. Depending on the circumstances, like whether there is a divorce involved and when it is finalized, it may be relatively easy or rather difficult to arrange visitation for an incarcerated parent.
  • Child support - Being locked up does not automatically relieve a parent of their obligation to support their child. However, the court will consider your lack of income and ability to pay when making a determination.
  • Circumstances matter - A parent who is serving time for child abuse is much less likely to retain any rights to see their child than a parent who was convicted of a crime that does not directly affect or endanger the child, like theft or minor drug possession.

If you have concerns about how being incarcerated could affect your continuing legal and personal relationship with your child, speaking with an attorney is the best place to start.

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IL custody lawyerIllinois law presumes that both a child’s parents are safe and capable of caring for their children. However, there are situations in which a parent’s rights may be limited or even eliminated. If there are concerns about a child’s safety with a parent, the court has the authority to impose certain restrictions on parenting time. If you are an unmarried or divorced parent, it is important to understand how and when parenting time restrictions are implemented.

Illinois Courts Impose Parenting Time Restrictions on a Case-by-Case Basis

Illinois law describes parenting duties in terms of “parental responsibilities,” meaning decision-making authority and “parenting time,” which used to be called visitation. The court assumes that it is best for a child to spend time with both of his or her parents unless there is ample evidence to the contrary. Consequently, the burden of proof is on the party requesting a parenting time restriction.

If a parent is worried about his or her child’s safety with the other parent, the parent may file a motion to limit parenting time or parental responsibilities. Many different issues may lead a parent to file a motion for restricted parenting time, including:

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IL family lawyerWhen addressing issues related to child custody, parents will need to consider multiple different factors. While matters related to children will be a key consideration for parents who are going through a divorce, unmarried couples may also need to determine how they will handle child-related issues in the event of a breakup or any other situation where a child’s parents are not living together as partners. Decisions involving child custody will be set down in a legally-binding document known as a parenting plan or parenting agreement. While much of the focus of a parenting plan will be on how parents will divide parental responsibilities (legal custody) and parenting time (physical custody or visitation), the agreement may also address a variety of other related issues. One important issue that parents may want to include in their parenting plan is the right of first refusal.

Understanding the Right of First Refusal

When parents divorce or separate, they will need to make adjustments to the ways they care for their children. While a parent may have become used to being there to address their children’s needs on a daily basis, they may no longer be able to do so, since the children will be staying with the other parent at least some of the time. However, there may be some cases when a parent may be concerned about who will care for their children if the other parent is unavailable.

In many cases, a person may believe that it would be best for their children to be able to stay with a parent whenever possible rather than being left with a babysitter or sent to the home of another family member. To ensure that parents will be able to provide care whenever it is needed, a couple may include the right of first refusal in their parenting plan. While the right of first refusal is not required by law in Illinois, it may be included if the parents agree on these terms, or either party may ask the judge in their case to grant them the right of first refusal because they believe it is necessary to protect their children’s best interests.

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