DuPage County family law attorneyDuring and after an Illinois divorce, parents will often feel some hostility towards each other. Even when using lower-conflict divorce methods like mediation, spouses may disagree strongly about what they want and what is best for their child. But despite their differences, most parents will agree that working together to share parental responsibilities is in a child’s best interests.

One crucial factor in providing a child with the best experience possible during and after a divorce is making sure that parents are not negative in their treatment toward and about each other. This is not always easy, but it can be done. Here are some tips for establishing healthy communication with your co-parent.

Never Fight In Front of Your Child

Disagreements are bound to come up, but they should take place only in a context where a child cannot hear you. Even when you are feeling hurt and angry, wait to discuss problems until you know you have privacy. A child does not have the wisdom or the tools to understand parental conflict. Arguing parents can be very scary, and children will often blame themselves for disagreements about child-rearing.

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Posted on in Child Custody

Wheaton IL family law attorneyPhysical discipline, including spanking, used to be a much more common punishment for children in the United States. Now, many parents view it as a thing of the past, but there are still those who believe it is sometimes an appropriate form of discipline. This can be a major source of conflict between divorced and unmarried parents who are in a custody dispute and are dissatisfied with each other’s parenting strategies. During these cases, questions may arise about whether physical discipline is ever appropriate, and how a history of physical punishment can affect the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Is Spanking Against the Law?

There is a law in Illinois that deals with spanking and other forms of corporal punishment, but the language is quite vague. Parents are not legally prohibited from spanking their children, but inflicting “excessive corporal punishment” is considered child abuse, and it can be grounds for action by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

But what constitutes “excessive”? This is subjective, not only in terms of what a parent believes, but in terms of what a judge might believe. The court is required to determine what is in the best interests of the child, but the result may seem subjective.

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Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County divorce attorneyIn our last post, we discussed guardians ad litem in Illinois and examined their role in a child custody dispute. In this post, we will look at another important role in custody battles: that of a custody evaluator.

Similar to cases in which guardians ad litem are appointed by the court, custody evaluators are often appointed when a custody battle is complex or hostile and the judge needs objective information about the parents and their home lives in order to make a custody decision.

What Is a Custody Evaluator?

A custody evaluator is usually a trained psychologist or a psychiatrist. They are responsible for investigating the mental health, home situation, and parenting capabilities of each parent, as well as getting to know each child in order to determine what is in their best interests. Parents may be required by the judge to pay for the custody evaluator themselves.

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Posted on in Child Custody

Wheaton IL family law attorneyDuring a contentious divorce or custody battle, parents may not be able to agree on what is best for their child. A judge, who is a third-party observer, will hear arguments from both parents’ lawyers but may still need to know more. One way courts in Illinois deal with situations like this is by appointing a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the child. This is especially true when there are allegations of abuse. But what exactly is a guardian ad litem, and what can you expect them to do in your case?

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem (GAL) in Illinois is a person who has undergone specific and ongoing training that qualifies them to act as an independent representative of a child in a divorce or custody case. They are also often a licensed attorney, but when acting as a GAL, they do not represent either of the parents, but rather function as a kind of special investigator whose role is to collect information and analyze the entire family situation of the child.

Even if a parent requests a guardian ad litem be appointed by the court, the GAL is concerned only with understanding a child’s best interests. They will meet with parents, teachers, and extended family members, assess each parent’s living situation, and investigate any allegations of domestic violence or abuse. They will then create a report to detail their findings.

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Wheaton IL child custody lawyerIn 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act and changed the way marijuana is treated under Illinois state law. Although marijuana use and possession remain illegal under federal law, this follows a national trend of legalizing marijuana use on the state level.

Included in this new law are provisions which state that marijuana use in and of itself cannot be used as a factor in making decisions in child custody disputes. Judges, custody evaluators, and guardians ad litem are not allowed to discriminate against a custodial parent based on recreational or medicinal marijuana use.

However, this law has certain limitations. Like alcohol, marijuana usage can cross into unhealthy behaviors, particularly when children are in the picture. Keeping a few basic principles in mind will help you keep your children safe and ensure marijuana never becomes an issue in a child custody dispute.

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