other parent, visitation, Illinois family law attorneyFollowing a divorce or break-up, parents go their separate ways, often creating vastly different lifestyles from one another. In most cases, however, each parent still has the right to at least reasonable visitation with the child, if not significant parenting time through a shared custody arrangement. For some parents, however, the difference in lifestyles can be particularly troubling, especially if there are concerns that the child is being negatively affected. If you have been questioning the appropriateness of the other parent’s behavior, it is important to know what you can and cannot do about it, and a family lawyer can help.

Your Opinion May Not Really Matter

Unless otherwise stated in your custody order or parenting agreement, how you feel about the other parent’s actions has little bearing on the situation. There are some exceptions, but those will be addressed in a moment. Even if you have been granted sole legal custody, meaning you are fully responsible for important decision-making in regard to your child, as long as the other parent has not been deemed unfit, he or she is permitted to parent as he or she desires. His or her time with the child is not under your control, and you do not have the authority to tell them what to do or how to do it.

child custody, best interest, Geneva family lawyerBeginning in 2016, Illinois will no longer be using the phrase "child custody" when deciding what should happen to a child whose parents are splitting up, but the law still requires judges to evaluate what is in the best interest of the child. The court will need to decide where the child will live most of the time. This may no longer be called custody, but it functions in a similar way.

Judges know that while parents can and should share the major decision making and parenting tasks, the parents are most likely in court because they have difficulty resolving issues together.

Best Interest of the Child Standard

relocation, Illinois law, Geneva family law attorneyFollowing a divorce or separation, it is not uncommon for one or both former partners to move to a new city or town. Some may be seeking a fresh start or a change of pace, while others may be moving closer to family members and existing support systems. When the divorce or separation involves children, however, the situation can be much more complex, as any significant move is likely to impact custody and visitation arrangements. As you look toward a possible relocation, it is important to understand the steps you may need to take to remain in compliance with applicable laws.

Existing Provisions in the Law

Currently in Illinois, a custodial parent is statutorily permitted to move with his or her child anywhere within the state. While such a move may have a direct effect on an existing custody or visitation agreement, there is nothing in the law to prevent it. Conversely, moving with child to a new location outside of Illinois requires the consent of the other parent or the overriding approval of the court. In granting approval, the court must determine the move to be in good faith and in the overall best interest of the child.

child representative, best interest, Kane County Family Law AttorneyA seven year old Massachusetts boy has spent more than a month in a coma after being allegedly starved and abused by his father. The man had gained custody of the child in a seven-minute hearing in late June of last year, after only recently acknowledging that he was the boy’s father. Officials and legal experts are pointing the case as a prime example of the need for representation on behalf of the child in custody situations.

For most of his life, the boy was raised by his maternal grandmother, who agreed to transfer custody of the child to his father. The child’s mother has been estranged for two years, but maintained the rights to visitation. In the months that followed, authorities received several complaints of neglect regarding the boy, but a visit by a state social worker had no apparent effect. Two weeks later, the boy went into a coma and was hospitalized with burns and extensive bruising, and weighing just under 40 pounds.

Family members now admit that the boy’s father has a history of violence and mental illness, including bipolar disorder and borderline schizophrenia. According to reports, however, the father’s parental fitness was never called into question and the court transferred custody without checking into the man’s background. He now faces charges for assaulting the child.

communication, coparenting, Kane County Family Law AttorneyCooperative parenting after a divorce, or for parents who were never married, can most certainly be a challenge. Moreover, it is a long-term situation that will not simply “work itself out” without serious effort and a commitment to your child’s best interests. Relationship and parenting experts will point to communication as the most important factor in any coparenting situation, and there is little argument with that perspective. However, most tend to focus on the communication between parents, while, in practice, it is just as vital to communicate effectively with your child as well.

Particular Challenges for Non-Custodial Parents

In most separated-parent family arrangements, one parent—usually the parent with primary physical custody—will spend more time with the child than the other. The other—or non-custodial—parent does not necessarily love his or her child any less; it is just the nature of the situation that limits time together.

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