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dupage county divorce lawyerThe burgeoning emergence of divorced co-parents with legal disputes about rearing transgender and gender non-conforming youths is controversial and polarizing.  When negotiations fail, child custody attorneys can help prove the "best interest of the child" standard. Post-decree modifications can award the legal decision-making authority to one parent.  Skilled family law attorneys understand the profound ethical issues involved with transgender children and teens. Transgender youths and their families are sometimes plagued with emotional trauma, and a good family law lawyer will be able to navigate the complexities of these special custody cases.  

Avenues that Family Lawyers May Use to Resolve Disagreements About Child-Related Issues

Mediation – Led by a mediator, who is a neutral third-party negotiator, mediation sometimes resolves custody conflicts.  Mediation is more cost-effective than the court process of litigation. A good mediator will also be a lawyer who can practice in your county.

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) – An advocate for the child or teen, a GAL investigates the conflict and provides the judge with recommendations.  Although a judge usually appoints a GAL, clients can request one.  A GAL can be called as a witness and cross-examined.  GALs retain tremendous influence on the judge’s final decision.

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naperville divorce lawyerThe turmoil and trauma involved in child custody battles can be severe, but it augments the dispute when one parent is afflicted with addiction. A divorce and family law attorney who understands the complexities of custody challenges will work on behalf of the client and in the child's best interest. Usually, the court appoints a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) and a Child Representative. Their evaluation will help facilitate the child-custody decree. A dedicated family law attorney will provide dispute resolutions to mitigate the family's emotional stress and financial burdens.

Five Addictions that Trigger Child-Custody Battles  

A spouse suffering from addiction can wreak havoc on the child’s emotions and parental relationships. Substance abuse addiction impairs judgment and decision-making and can lead to domestic violence, further endangering the child. The risky behaviors of addicted spouses can significantly impact the court’s decisions in custody battles. Such addictions include, but are not limited to substance abuse, porn addiction, gambling addiction, compulsive shopping, and sex addiction. 

Failing to follow provisions, like addiction treatment, of the child-custody decree may lead to restricted parenting time or other consequences. Contingent on recovery or relapse, the family law lawyer will be able to make modifications to the decree.

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Naperville parental alienation lawyerMany parents worry that, after divorce, their ex will try to poison their child against them. Efforts to do this are known as parental alienation and while parental alienation can sometimes be obvious, more often the signs are subtle and difficult to pin down. The effects of parental alienation on a developing child’s psychological well-being can be damaging and Illinois courts take this behavior from parents seriously. If you are worried your child’s other parent is trying to turn your child against you, read on. 

Parental Alienation is Real

Whether you call it parental alienation, psychological manipulation, or child abuse, behaviors that unjustly cause a child to feel hostility towards a parent are wrong. Children need both of their parents and even when parents feel hostility and anger towards each other, they should do whatever they can to keep kids out of the conflict. Unfortunately, many parents use their children in proxy battles with each other to get revenge for hurt and disappointment during their marriage. 

Alienating behaviors go above and beyond occasionally saying, “Your mother never puts healthy food in your lunchbox!” Rather, parents who constantly belittle or badmouth each other to the child, forbid the child from mentioning the other parent, or withdraw parental love and support when the child expresses love for their other parent may cause a child to reject the parent who is targeted by this behavior. 

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IL divorce lawyerAny family law issue can become hostile and non-productive. When a family law concern involving children becomes contentious, both the adults and the children involved in the dispute can suffer. In order to reduce contention and promote out-of-court resolutions to child custody issues, many Illinois courts require parents to attend mediation.

Why Are We Being Forced to Go to Mediation?

Child custody disputes are often some of the most difficult family law cases to resolve. Parents understandably have strong beliefs about their children and what is best for them. When parents cannot reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, the court may have to intervene. However, Illinois courts try to avoid child custody trials whenever possible. These trials can place a great strain on children and their parents. The adversarial nature of a court trial also pits parents against each other, making it even harder for them to build a cooperative co-parenting relationship in the future.

That being said, there are some situations in which mediation is not a viable solution. For example, mediation is not required or even recommended in cases involving domestic violence or child abuse.

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IL divorce lawyerEnding a marriage can be a complex process emotionally, legally, and financially. This is especially true when parents divorce. If you share children with your soon-to-be-ex, it is important to educate yourself about the way Illinois handles child custody. The state revamped several major divorce and child custody laws in 2016. Now, parents are asked to create a parenting plan that describes each parent’s parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Child Custody Laws in Illinois

When parents file for divorce, they are asked to create a “parenting plan” or parenting agreement that describes child custody issues. While the terms “child custody” and “visitation” are still sometimes used informally, the law no longer uses these terms. Instead, child custody is broken down into two major components:

  • Parental responsibilities –The parents will determine who has authority to make decisions about their child’s education, extracurricular activities, medical care, and religion.
  • Parenting time – The time that each parent spends taking care of the child.

What Must Be Included in the Parenting Plan

There are 15 specific requirements for Illinois parenting plans. The parents must decide how major decisions about the child will be made. Sometimes, one parent takes charge of all major decision-making. Other times, parents share these responsibilities. Parents must also include either a parenting time schedule or a detailed method for allocating parenting time – including parenting time during holidays, school breaks, and other special circumstances. The parenting time schedule or method must be detailed enough to be enforceable in any future legal proceeding. The parents are also asked to include information about how the child will be transported between homes and what should happen if a parent wishes to modify parental responsibilities or parenting time in the future.

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