Child custody cases are frequently emotionally straining. They can be even more stressful and upsetting when parents have a contentious relationship. When you are facing difficult custody cases or disputes between well-meaning parents, you want to work with a Bloomington child custody attorney.
Disputes Over Parental Fitness
A fit or unfit parent is a legal term that defines whether a parent provides a safe environment for their child and can provide for a child’s basic needs. The fitness of each parent is an important determination during the initial custody case for a child. However, disputes about parental fitness can also occur after a custody decision is made.
The Illinois court generally prefers that both parents have the ability to make decisions for their children and that each has a portion of parenting time. When one parent wants full sole custody, they must prove that the other parent is unfit to have any legal custody, physical custody, and sometimes visitation rights.
There are several actions or inactions that may result in a court deciding that one parent is unfit for custody, such as:
- Repeated child neglect
- Extreme cruelty to a child
- A continuous lack of responsibility for a child’s welfare
- A conviction for murder
A history of mental illness or substance dependency may also be a factor, but it only renders a parent unfit when it interferes with their ability to care for their child.
If the court sees evidence that one parent has committed child abuse, the parent may receive limited visitation, supervised visitation, or no visitation at all.
Custodial interference occurs when one parent or a third party interferes with either parent’s court-ordered visitation or custody of their child. It is usually a violation of a court order, and it is also a crime. Both custodial and noncustodial parents can commit custodial interference by preventing a child from spending time with the other parent. Parents with joint custody can also commit this crime.
There are also less extreme actions that parents can take to be uncooperative with custody orders. If a co-parent is continually ignoring the terms of a parenting plan, it’s important to talk with your attorney. Even if a parent is not guilty of custodial interference, there are still potential steps to take to enforce court orders.
After a custody order has been created, it can be modified for significant and substantial changes in a family’s life if it is in the child’s interest. One of those changes occurs when a parent wishes to relocate. If the move is a certain distance, then the parent must inform the other parent of their decision to move 60 days prior to the move occurring.
If the other parent wishes to, they can dispute the move. Parental relocation can sometimes result in a noncustodial parent losing significant visitation time due to children being further away. It can also make transportation more complicated. Disputes can occur when one parent wishes to move elsewhere, and the other parent wants the court to prevent the move.
Parenting alienation occurs when one parent manipulates or encourages a child to fear or dislike the other parent. In highly contentious divorces or separations, one parent may do this in the hopes of getting a child to request a preference in custody determinations. A child’s preference can influence custody determinations, but the judge will always prioritize the child’s interest over their preference.
Parental alienation can also occur after custody has been determined. This may be done to modify custody or to act maliciously against the other parent. Parental alienation may include lying about the other parent or blaming the divorce on them. Children may suddenly exhibit signs of hating one parent without cause or believing that the other parent can do no wrong. An alienating parent may also try to prevent communication between the other parent and child.
Q: How Do I Prove That a Parent Is Unfit in Illinois?
A: An unfit parent is a legal term for a parent who is incapable of providing for their child’s needs and welfare. In Illinois, a court will declare a parent unfit if there is proof of one of the following situations:
- Child abandonment
- Continuous and repeated child neglect
- Failure to have reasonable interest and responsibility in the child’s well-being
- Failure to provide a safe living environment for a child
- Physical abuse, emotional abuse, or extreme cruelty
- Continuous and repeated failure to provide for a child’s basic needs, including shelter, food, and clothing, despite having the ability to provide those things
- Mental illness and/or substance use disorder that prevents them from caring for a child
- A conviction for certain felonies
- Discovering that a child has drugs in their system
Q: What Is the Most Common Custody Arrangement in Illinois?
A: In Illinois, the most common way that parents share parental responsibilities is through joint legal custody and sole physical custody with significant visitation rights for the other parent. This is because the court believes that it is important for a child to have meaningful time with both parents, but the court also considers it to be in a child’s interest to have a stable home environment. Joint physical custody can sometimes result in a child being moved too often.
When parents do have joint physical custody, there are many different arrangements that may work for a family if they are willing to work together.
Q: How Do You Deal With a Nasty Custody Battle?
A: A contentious custody battle is difficult on parents and especially on children. You want to take care of your children and try to protect them from the stressful legal case. In situations where doing so does not place you or your children in danger, it is ideal to cooperate with your co-parent to find a solution.
The most important thing you can do to make the case more efficient and easier on the whole family is to find an experienced child custody attorney. An attorney can help you determine how to effectively advocate for the custody arrangement that is in your child’s interests.
Q: What Is an Example of Co-Parent Harassment?
A: An example of co-parent harassment is custodial interference. A noncustodial or custodial parent can commit custodial interference by preventing the other parent from having their legal parenting time with their child. Custodial interference can result in fines or even jail time after repeat offenses. However, there are some cases where custodial interference is acceptable, such as when a parent keeps a child away from the other parent out of a reasonable fear for the child’s safety.
Contact Stange Law Firm
Contact Stange Law Firm for qualified attorneys who can help you manage your child custody dispute.