When Ex-Spouses Abuse the Legal System
A recent report touched on the growing nationwide problem of parents who are being reported to local child protection agencies for behaviors and decisions the parents believe are normal, healthy parenting decisions. For example, in one instance an Illinois couple faced an investigation for child abuse after someone saw the couple’s children playing in a park next door to their apartment and reported the couple for child neglect. These types of cases do not just “go away”: years later the couple is continuing to fight back against authorities that found they were guilty of neglecting their children.
Abusing Laws Designed to Protect Others
Domestic violence, child abuse, and child neglect have all received a great deal of attention in recent years. Many states – Illinois included – have enacted tough laws that are designed to encourage concerned individuals to report suspected child abuse or child neglect without fear of repercussion and that make it easy for abused domestic partners to seek restraining orders against their abusive partners. As good and laudable as these efforts are, they can be easily abused and manipulated.
Even divorcing partners can abuse these laws for their own benefit. A parent may want to encourage the other parent to agree to his or her demands. To accomplish this, a protective order is sought prohibiting that parent from seeing his or her children. Or a parent wanting to gain sole custody over the couple’s children may file (or encourage others to file) complaints with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in an effort to show a court that that parent is abusive or neglects the children.
What to Do if You Believe You Are Being Unfairly Targeted by Your Ex
Being the subject of this sort of treatment by your ex-spouse – having baseless protective orders filed against you or being reported to DCFS for abuse or neglect – is aggravating and scary and can leave you as a parent feeling helpless. What can you do if you believe your ex-spouse is abusing the system in an attempt to control you?
- Voice your concerns with your attorney. The best thing you can do right away is to call your Illinois divorce attorney at once. He or she needs to be informed of the situation in order to be able to provide you with the best advice.
- Resist the temptation to meet with or speak to your ex-spouse without the advice and knowledge of your attorney. You may enter such a conversation with the best of intentions and end up making the situation worse.
- Do not violate a restraining or protective order. Doing so is a crime that can result in fines and jail time and end up complicating your divorce or custody proceeding even further.
The skilled Dupage County family law attorneys at our firm are here to assist you regardless of your circumstances or your ex-spouse’s behavior. Contact us right away to discuss your situation. Depending on your circumstances, we may be able to have a court enter orders to prohibit or deter your ex-spouse from filing frivolous complaints. In any event, do not let your ex-spouse attempt to control or manipulate you in this way. Contact a divorce lawyer for help.