A Nebraska father has lost his fight to obtain primary residential custody of his children after a Nebraska appellate court ruled the trial court properly considered his motion and entered a ruling supported by the facts and circumstances of the case. The father argued that allowing the children to remain in the custody of their mother, who had remarried a registered sex offender, was contrary to the children’s best interests. The children’s stepfather admitted to having been convicted of attempted sexual assault over 10 years ago and had served four years in prison for the offense. In finding that the current custody arrangement did not pose a significant risk to the father’s teenaged daughters, the court relied on the testimony of the girls’ therapist who stated she believed the stepfather posed a low risk of reoffending and testimony that established certain precautions were in place at the mother’s house to ensure the girls were not left alone with their stepfather.
Changing Custody in Illinois When the Residential Parent Remarries a Sex Offender
Child custody decisions in Illinois (as elsewhere) are based on what the court determines to be the “best interest of the child.” There are a number of factors listed in Illinois statutes that courts can consider in determining what is the best interest of the child, but this list is non-exclusive (meaning that the court is free to consider other factors that it deems relevant to making its decision). If one of the parties to the custody action is a registered sex offender, this is a factor the Illinois statutes direct the court to consider. The fact that a stepparent who lives with the children is a registered sex offender may be considered by the court, despite not being specifically listed as a factor to consider.
The fact that the residential parent or his or her partner is a registered sex offender is no guarantee that the noncustodial parent’s motion to change custody will be successful. Evidence should be presented to support your contention that continuing to live in the same house as a registered sex offender is not in the child’s best interest. This evidence can show:
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- The similarities between the victims of the person’s prior sexual offense and the children;
- The lack of protective measures at the home (i.e., the offender is left alone with the children);
- That the offender has a high-risk of reoffending, as attested to by a mental health professional who has examined the person; and/or
- That the offender did not complete a treatment program or attempted to complete such a program but did not successfully complete the program.
Change of custody motions can be difficult to win and require presentation of evidence showing that the child’s best interests are in jeopardy if the child continues to live with the other party. Our skilled DuPage County child custody lawyers
can help you gather and persuasively present evidence to support your motion, increasing the chances that your motion will be successful. Contact us today at 630-871-1002
to discuss your case with us.