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Lake County Family Law Blog

Making the right choices with your custody relocation case

When an unmarried or divorced parent discovers he or she is going to have to move because of a job or some other important event in their lives, what happens next with respect to the allocation of parenting time and decision-making authority could be just as critical as when child custody and parenting time were first decided.

The ultimate decision is important for the custodial parent who is trying to move because he or she could wind up with the painful choice of either cancelling a move or giving up child custody. Non-custodial parents, on the other hand, may have a bona fide fear that if the other parent gets permission to relocate, then they are going to have hard time even seeing, much less forming a relationship with, their children.

What rules apply if I need to move with my children?

Like other states, Illinois has laws in place that govern under what terms a single parent who is the primary caregiver of his or her children can move his or her family. These rules are in place to make sure the other parent gets treated fairly, as a move could affect that other's parent's parenting time with the children, as well as his or her overall relationship with them.

Under Illinois law, and in Lake County in particular, if a parent wants to move more than 25 miles from his or her current residence, then he or she will have to send an appropriate notice both to the other parent and to the proper court for filing. In other parts of Illinois, a parent may be able to move 50 miles from his or her current residence without this state law applying. It is important to note that this notice, required under state law, is in addition to any court order that might also require a parent to let the other parent know about a move.

The reasons to involve an attorney in a custody mediation

A previous post here talked about under what circumstances it might be appropriate for a Chicago resident to mediate a child custody issue. As that post said, while in most cases mediation is a good way to head off an emotionally draining custody conflict, it is not always the best option for every circumstance.

Whether it is by choice or because a court ordered it, many Illinois couples are going to wind up mediating things like legal custody, physical custody and parent time, as well as certain custody issues that are specific to the couple, like how they intend to work around each other's job schedules or other commitments when it comes to raising their children. Sometimes, parents and even mediators themselves might not want attorneys present during a mediation, which brings up a point related to the question of whether mediation is right for the circumstances in the first place. Should a parent in Illinois who is going to mediation insist on having their family law attorney present and, if so, to what extent?

What can I do if my ex could be making more for child support?

When two parents are living apart while trying to raise a child, it can be particularly frustrating since the other parent's biggest financial obligation is to pay child support each week. If a parent in Illinois flat out ignores the child support order, that parent can face serious penalties, including the possibility of jail time. However, sometimes parents who don't want to shoulder their share of the financial burden when it comes to paying child support try to skirt around the law instead. Oftentimes, they do this by masking or understating income, including by quitting higher paying jobs voluntarily or to take a job that does not make as much.

Fortunately, a parent who is counting on that child support has some recourse in such situations. However, the parent has to prove that the other parent is taking no job or a lower-paying job by choice, as the court is not going to punish someone simply for falling on hard economic times or even making an understandable but mistaken decision.

What the police can, and might not, do after domestic violence

Many people in Lake County and the rest of the greater Chicago area might not want to contact the police after their spouse or significant other physically or otherwise abuses them. For those who do take the courageous step of speaking up for themselves, it may be hard to understand what the police can and cannot do when they respond to reports of domestic violence.

Illinois law enforcement officers are actually required to do certain things to make sure that victims of domestic violence are appropriately protected. One rule they must observe is that if they feel after responding that there is enough information to believe someone broke Illinois's laws about domestic violence, then they must arrest the suspect. Referring the matter to the prosecutor without making an arrest will not happen.

Is mediation always appropriate in a child custody dispute?

There are a lot of people in the Chicago area and around the country who promote domestic mediation of some sort as the best possible way to resolve a child custody or parenting time issue. Among other things, promoters argue that children adjust to the fact that their parents do not live together best when the couple is at least willing to stay out of court and get along as to matters that affect their children.

Indeed, it is true that it is, generally speaking, oftentimes a good idea to work out custody and parenting time plans in a "give-a-little, take-a-little" process like mediation. It does help the children out emotionally, and it also saves parents from the time and stress of going through a long, and often expensive, court battle that will inevitably end up with one and possibly both parties not getting what they wanted.

The impact of emotional abuse

A previous post here discussed how, under Illinois law, a person need not be a victim of actual physical abuse in order to obtain a restraining order. Under the right circumstances, a person can still get a restraining order against a partner or former partner who engages in behavior that would best be described as "emotional abuse."

Although some might be skeptical of giving a restraining order to someone who has not been physically touched or, perhaps, not even threatened with bodily harm, the impact of emotional abuse on a domestic violence victim cannot be underestimated. Although how one responds to emotional abuse will obviously vary from person to person, in some cases, people walk away from emotional abuse permanently scarred.

The grounds for a restraining order in Illinois

Previous posts here have discussed how an Illinois resident or someone else in the greater Chicago area who has been abused in some way may be able to get a restraining order from a court which prevents the abuser, even if he or she is a spouse or former spouse, from being around the victim and continuing to inflict abuse. Restraining orders can also be a valuable tool for ensuring the safety of children, especially since they can address important child custody questions.

However, a person cannot go and get a restraining order for any reason whatsoever, nor can a person expect one just because his or her spouse has been rude to them or cross. Instead, Illinois law sets out specific reasons why a person can get a restraining order, and the victim will be expected to show proof that at least one of these reasons applies to his or her case.

Representing those who need to appeal or change on order

A previous post here discussed how a resident of the greater Chicago area or those who live in other parts of Illinois can appeal a family law decision if they do not like the result and feel that the judge has made a legal error in reaching it.

Our law office has over 20 years of experience representing Lake County and other Illinois residents who have been through a family law case and have wound up on the receiving end of a decision they do not like and do not feel they can realistically live with. We have helped people pursue their case in a higher court, and have experienced successful results in doing so.

How does a restraining order ensure the safety of children?

Previous posts here have discussed how a Lake County resident, or anyone in the greater Chicago area, who has been the victim of domestic violence can get help by going to court and getting a restraining order. If granted, a restraining order will require the perpetrator to stay away from the victim and, if it is violated, gives police the power to make an arrest, even if no further domestic violence actually occurs.

However, restraining orders in Illinois can do a lot more for a victim than simply offering an extra layer of protection. For instance, the order can grant child custody on a temporary basis and can, on a related point, establish some ground rules for visitation, assuming that the court allows visitation at all and that the perpetrator wants visits. A victim can also get child support set up through a protective order and can even get an order requiring someone to go to counseling.

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