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Posted on in Guardian ad Litem

Geneva family law attorneyFamily law is one of the most sensitive and challenging areas of the law. While the applicable statutes themselves may not be quite as complicated as tax or real estate law, for example, the personal nature of issues such as divorce and the allocation of parental responsibilities make them particularly difficult for who are going through them.

In some cases, child-related disputes can become so contentious that the parties are unable to remain objective and focused on the child’s best interests. When this happens, the court may appoint a specially trained attorney to serve as a guardian ad litem (GAL) for the duration of the proceedings.

The Job of a GAL

Geneva parental responsibilities attorneyPeople move around much more often they once did. As transportation and communication continue to improve over time, it opens up a new host of questions for families, especially divorced families with children. There are rules about how and when you may take your children out of state, especially if your child is a minor. Lest you run afoul of the law, it is absolutely imperative to understand what the rules are in these cases, especially regarding questions of parental responsibilities.

Decision-Making Authority

Many people assume that if they been given sole authority to make all major decisions about their child’s welfare, they do not need to seek the other parent’s approval when planning a move. This, however, is not the case. In almost every situation, your child’s other parent has the right to object to your intended move out of state or beyond a certain distance within Illinois if he or she believes it is not in the best interest of your children. The court has the final say, of course, and can refuse to grant permission to move with your child if it finds that the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health will be compromised by the move.

If both parents share roughly equal time with the child or children, the non-moving parent will have more say in whether or not the relocation should be permitted than if he or she has little time with the child. A common compromise is for the non-moving parent to agree to the move and receive longer blocks of parenting time in return.

Reasons for Strict Regulations on Child Removal

Geneva family law attorneysDuring some divorce or parental responsibility proceedings, one or both spouses will resort to unethical tactics in order to get ahead. Accusing the other spouse of child abuse is a tactic that has become unfortunately more common in recent years, but it still does not happen as often as one might think. Still, if it happens to you, it is important to know how to defend yourself from false allegations of abuse.

“Reasonable Belief”

As one might imagine, child abuse allegations are taken extremely seriously. The number of children actually removed from their homes, however, has decreased in recent years. When abuse allegations are made, the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) is called in to do an investigation. This is not a criminal investigation, but it can easily become one. The important thing is to cooperate with the investigation—any resistance can be taken as a possible indication of guilt.

Geneva family law attorneyFollowing a divorce or a breakup between unmarried parents, arrangements must be made regarding care of the children. It is important to get such considerations in written form and approved by the court to be sure that neither parent’s rights are compromised along the way. If you are a parent in such a situation and you cannot reach an agreement with your former partner, the court has the authority to impose whatever arrangements it deems appropriate for your case.

The court decision, of course, must be based on provisions in the law—specifically the terms of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Child support obligations notwithstanding, there are two primary areas of concern that are included within the realm of the allocation of parental responsibilities, previously known as child custody.

Significant Decision-Making Responsibilities

Geneva family law attorneyWhen you and your child’s other parent are forced to come up with arrangements regarding for parenting time—previously known as visitation under Illinois law—it can be regrettably easy to get caught up in your own wants and needs. Some, of course, are entirely reasonable, such as building parenting time schedules around your career obligations, but many parents often forget to take their child’s wishes into account.

What the Law Says

While parents are free to develop a parenting plan—including arrangements for parenting time—on their own, such a plan must be reasonable and serve the best interests of the child. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, arrangements may be made by the court. In doing so, the court is required by law to take a number of factors into account, including the wishes of the child in question. The child’s wishes are not necessarily binding but should factor into the court’s ultimate decision.

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