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Joliet child custody lawyersIn most cases in which a child’s parents get a divorce, and in many cases in which the parents have never been married, an Illinois court will attempt to reach a resolution in which both parents have substantial parenting time and a role in parental decision-making responsibilities. However, the child’s best interests are the most important consideration, and in cases in which a parent’s behavior could put the child at risk, the court may order a restriction of parental responsibilities. One such example is when a parent has problems with drug addiction or substance abuse.

Parental Responsibility Restrictions Due to Substance Abuse

The habitual abuse of alcohol, illegal drugs, and other controlled substances can not only impair a parent’s ability to perform parental responsibilities, but can also directly harm their child. Under Illinois law, parenting time and decision-making responsibilities can both be restricted if there is sufficient evidence that a parent has put the child’s physical, mental, or moral health, or emotional development at risk.

In cases involving substance abuse, the court may order that a parent must refrain from using or possessing a substance before and during their parenting time. The parent may also be ordered to complete a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program as a condition of any parenting time or visitation they are granted. Depending on the situation, additional restrictions may be warranted as well, including:

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Joliet family law attorneyThe stigmatization behind the term “mental illness” has been greatly reduced over the past few decades. Unlike in the past, being diagnosed with a mental illness is fairly common, and contrary to popular belief, the diagnosis does not necessarily impact your ability to perform everyday activities or hold responsibility. In the U.S. alone, nearly one in five adults live with a mental illness. 

If you are a parent whose former spouse or co-parent has a mental illness, you may be concerned about their ability to be there for your child. While having a mental illness is not enough to be considered incapable of parenting, if you have seen your co-parent’s mental health get in the way of their parenting capabilities, you may be wondering how to address this in court and have these concerns reflected in your parenting plan. With the help of a reputable attorney, you can have your concerns heard by the court and keep your child in safe hands. 

Levels of Mental Illness

Mental illnesses can come in many forms and levels of severity. The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes two categories of mental illness: any mental illness (AMI) and serious mental illness (SMI). AMI is defined as a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder that can vary in impact from mild to severe impairment. SMI is a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder which results in serious functional impairment and which greatly interferes with or limits major life activities. According to 2019 data, an estimated 20.6 percent of all U.S. adults have AMI, while only 5.2 percent of U.S. adults have SMI. As you can see, only a small number of Americans suffer from SMI, and in order for your co-parent’s mental health to weigh into your parenting plan, they will likely need to have severe impairment from AMI or be diagnosed with a SMI.

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Is My Co-Parent Purposely Damaging My Relationship with Our Child?When parents get divorced, their ongoing relationship can be tricky to navigate. Unlike other divorced couples, co-parents do not have the option of living completely separate lives. Maybe they spend time with their kids together or perhaps they only communicate regarding parenting arrangements and other necessary decisions. While it is always advisable to have an amicable co-parenting relationship, this is not always the case. In fact, some parents will go so far as to create a division in the relationship between their child and their co-parent in a tactic known as parental alienation.

What is Parental Alienation?

The term parental alienation syndrome (PAS) was coined in 1985 by child psychologist Richard Gardner to describe the behaviors seen in a child when they are subjected to parental alienation. When one parent discredits the child’s other parent, this can directly influence the child’s relationship with the discredited parent. The words and actions that are done to damage this relationship are known as parental alienation. This can come in many forms, a common example being one parent telling the child that their other parent does not love them or care about them. He or she can also provide in-depth details of why their marriage failed in an attempt to turn their child against their other parent. The severity of parental alienation tactics can vary and may not always be intentional. However, these criticisms can leave a lasting, damaging impact on the quality of the child-parent relationship.

Signs of PAS

Parental alienation syndrome is not an officially recognized mental health condition, but a court may acknowledge one parent’s efforts to damage the other parent’s relationship with their child. If you have suspicions that your child is being subjected to parental alienation, look for the following signs:

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Markham parenting time attorney supervised visitation

During a divorce, parents must decide how they will continue to parent their child moving forward. This can be difficult for parents since they are likely used to seeing their children on a daily basis. Ideally, courts try to keep both parents in the child's life since this is often deemed beneficial for the child. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If the court determines that you are unfit to take care of your child alone, they may grant you supervised visitation or deny you from seeing your child at all. Typically, the court will allow supervised visitation before taking such drastic actions as banning you from spending time with your child. Having another party in the room while you are taking care of your kids can be uncomfortable, and the nerves may bring out the worst in parents. Staying calm and having a game plan for your supervised visit is the best way to move towards removing those restrictions.

Create an Active Visit

You will have a certain amount of time to spend with your child, so it is important to make the most of it. It is a good idea to have a few activities planned for your child so that you appear prepared and invested in spending time with them. These “events” do not have to be anything out of the ordinary, but they should tailor to your child’s interests. Even if you just color or play Legos, that shows that you are willing to set aside time for your kids.

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DuPage County divorce child custody lawyerIf you are a parent who is considering ending your marriage through divorce, you probably have concerns about how you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will share responsibility for your children. Some couples are able to come to a custody decision together, while other divorcing couples require court intervention to arrive at a workable custody plan that protects parents’ rights and children’s best interests. If you are considering divorce, and you and your spouse share children, it is important for you to know the basics of child custody laws in Illinois.

Different Types of Custody

Illinois courts recognize two forms of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Together, the two concepts comprise what the law calls the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Physical custody refers to which parent the child is with at any given time, and it is called “parenting time” in Illinois law. Legal custody is referred to as “significant decision-making responsibilities,” and it involves the right of a parent to be involved in major decisions about their child’s upbringing. Decision-making authority can be given to just one parent, or both parents can share responsibility for different areas identified by the law: education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. While most experts agree that children do better with both parents in their lives, a shared custody arrangement may not be appropriate for families with a history of abuse or neglect.

Factors Considered During Court-Ordered Child Custody Arrangements

If divorcing parents cannot come to an agreement regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities, then custody decisions will be made in court. A family court judge ultimately makes custody decisions for parents who cannot agree to a plan based on what he or she thinks is in the best interests of the child. When making these decisions, a family court judge will consider factors such as:

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