Archive for the ‘visitation’ tag

How Can DCFS Being Called Affect Your Child Custody Agreement?

April 16th, 2015 at 6:42 pm

protective services, DCFS, Chicago Family LawyerAlthough the possibility of initiating a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) complaint is often dismissed as an empty threat, it should be taken seriously. Every day in Illinois and the rest of the United States, children are subjected to dangerous neglect and abuse by their parents. Social service departments like DCFS exist to get children out of these kinds of situations and prevent them from being endangered in the future. Certain cases may require established custody orders to be altered.

When somebody calls DCFS with a concern about your child’s safety or welfare, the agency is required to investigate the claim. If a representative finds that abuse, neglect, or any other form of child endangerment has occurred in your household, your custody agreement may be changed. You could, depending on the severity of the mistreatment that occurred, lose custody of your child, have restrictions placed on your visitation, or lose all parenting rights completely. DCFS can not determine your custody agreement, but its input can play a role in the court’s decisions regarding your child’s custody.

If you find yourself in an open case with DCFS, contact an experienced family attorney to learn more about your rights as a parent and what you need to do to keep your custodial rights.

Child Protective Services in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is the agency that handles all child welfare issues in Illinois. It is tasked with investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect, facilitating adoptions, reunifying children with their families, and licensing day care facilities. It also provides professional services for families throughout the state who are involved in a pending DCFS case.

If DCFS Gets Involved With Your Family

Although it may be difficult, it is important to keep in mind that DCFS is most interested in the well-being of your child. If and when a DCFS investigation becomes necessary, it is important to cooperate with reasonable requests from the representative who comes to your home. This will generally permit the agency to quickly reach a conclusion and make a finding in your case.

Cooperate with the court as well. If your custody or visitation order is modified and you would like to return to your prior arrangement, you will need to prove to the court that it is in your child’s best interest. In some situations, the court may order an in-home evaluation to ensure that you are providing a safe and health environment for your children. It is important to attend court and follow the orders entered by the judge.

Chicago Child Custody Attorneys

If your family is invovled in a DCFS case, contact a skilled Chicago family attorney at Anderson & Associates, P.C. to discuss the impact it can have on your child and your child custody case. You can reach us at 312-345-9999 and at one of our five convenient office locations in downtown Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Orland Park, or Northbrook. Our firm will work to advocate for you when working with the Department of Children and Family Services.

Understanding Illinois Visitation Rights

April 2nd, 2015 at 2:59 pm

visitation, visitation rights, Illinois Family Law Attorneys

Every custody arrangement is unique. In some cases, the court elects to award joint custody to both parents. This means that both parents are expected to cooperatively make decisions related to the child’s upbringing, including his or her education, religious training, and other considerations. The court may require parents with joint custody to draft a joint parenting agreement outlining each of their respective responsibilities and establishing an arrangement regarding the child’s time with each parent.

In other cases, the court recognizes that granting one parent sole custody is in the child’s best interest. The custodial parent is responsible for making the important decisions related to the child, and retains primary physical custody. Under Illinois law, the non-custodial parent is granted the reasonable right to visitation with the child.

In some cases, a relative other than a child’s parent may receive visitation rights. This can include the child’s grandparent or sibling if the court determines that such a visitation agreement is in the child’s best interest. Otherwise, this right is generally reserved for the child’s parents. Another relative will be granted visitation rights with a child only if the parents are unreasonable in denying visitation and specific familial circumstances exists, such as where one of the child’s parents is deceased or missing for at least three months.

Restrictions on Visitation Rights

If necessary, the court may impose restrictions on a parent’s visitation rights with his or her child in order to ensure the child’s safety. These restrictions may include:

  • Prohibiting the parent from using drugs or alcohol while in the child’s presence;
  • Requiring that the visits occur in the custodial parent’s home;
  • Prohibiting the visits from occurring in the non-custodial parent’s home;
  • Prohibiting overnight visits; and
  • Requiring that the visits be supervised by a third party.

These restrictions are put in place to protect the child. If a parent violates these restrictions, the court may modify or suspend his or her visitation rights entirely. Examples of reasons why a parent’s visitation rights may be suspended include:

  • If the parent has a history of harming the child. This can be physical harm, emotional harm, neglect, or psychological harm;
  • If the parent is found guilty of a crime against a child; and
  • If the parent is currently suffering from any type of substance addiction.

Chicago Family Attorneys

Call 312-345-9999 to speak with one of the experienced family attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. about your child custody case. We are here to serve you in one of our five convenient office locations in the Chicago area: Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, downtown Chicago, and Schaumburg. Child custody cases can be sensitive and create friction within families. Contact our firm for expert legal advice and representation on this and other difficult family law matters. We will give your case the dedication and attention to detail it deserves.


Child Removal: Moving Out of Illinois with a Child Custody Agreement

March 25th, 2015 at 3:02 pm

child custody, moving out of state, Illinois Family Law AttorneyIf you are thinking of moving out of state due to an improvement in employment, marriage, or to be near family, and have a custody agreement with the other parent of your child, you will need to get permission before moving. If you and the other parent do not agree to you moving out of state, you will need to file a petition with the court to remove the child out of Illinois before you are actually able to move. This is not intended to limit your ability to improve your living, but rather to ensure the best interest of the child is being kept the highest priority.

Petitioning to Move

 The court will consider many different factors during the process to determine whether the move is in the child’s best interest. These factors may include, but are not limited to:

  • The specific improvement in living arrangements offered by the change;
  • Reasons why the petitioning parent wants to move;
  • Current visitation and custody agreements;
  • The effect the move will have on the child; and
  • How the relationship with the other parent will be affected.

Similar to filing a petition to modify your custody agreement, as the petitioner, you will bear the burden of proof to show that the move is beneficial and in the best interest of the child. If you are the one requesting the move, you should be prepared to state the reason for the move, why the child should stay with you, and how your child will maintain a relationship with the non-custodial parent.

Ignoring the requirement to file a petition can have dire consequences. If the non-custodial parent contests the move, they may file to have the child returned to Illinois. This does not mean you are necessarily required to move back, just your child. Such a situation can be very costly, in addition to the expenses already incurred in making the move. Even if the move truly is in the best interest of the child, failure to have the move legally approved could have a negative impact on your case.

Successful Petition to Move

A successful petition to move out of Illinois with your child will involve demonstrating that the move is not due to malice or retaliation against the non-custodial parent, but rather that it will improve your child’s quality of life and health. You must also prove that you will cooperate to ensure your child maintains a relationship with the other parent.

If you have custody of your child and intend to move outside of Illinois, you need to speak with an experienced attorney who has handled removal court cases. Contact a qualified Chicago child removal attorney to discuss the best course of action. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients throughout the region from any of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

Representation of Children in Custody and Visitation Disputes

February 19th, 2015 at 9:05 pm

representation of children, child custody, Chicago child visitation attorneyMost parents would never do anything to intentionally put their children at risk for physical, emotional, or psychological harm. However, even the most conscientious parents may find themselves in the midst of a bitter, contentious divorce. In such cases, the needs and well-being of the couple’s children can be underrepresented or unintentionally neglected. The potential effects of such a situation may be long-lasting as child custody orders or visitation arrangements can be difficult to alter once entered. For this reason, the law in Illinois permits the court to appoint an attorney to protect a child’s best interest in any proceedings related to custody or visitation.

There are three appointment options available to the court when necessary. Judges are permitted to appoint a qualified attorney to fill the role of either attorney for the child, guardian ad litem, or child representative. Whichever the court chooses to utilize, the law expects the work of the appointed attorney to be in compliance with the statutes regarding each and to be seriously considered by the court throughout the case.

Attorney for the Child

The role of attorney for the child is a very straightforward one: counsel and legal representation for a child of the parties in the case. As any lawyer, the Attorney for the Child is expected to represent his or her client’s wishes before the court. The attorney has the same obligations and confidentiality to the child as any other client, even though he or she is not an adult. Such representation may be fine for an older child, but younger children typically lack decision making skills necessary to effectively utilize an Attorney for the Child’s services.

Guardian ad Litem 

By contrast, a guardian ad litem serves as an extension of the court to independently determine the child’s best interest. Unlike an attorney for the child, a guardian ad litem is not bound by the child’s expressed wishes. The guardian ad litem has the authority to investigate the family circumstances and may speak with all involved parties to establish what outcome would best benefit the child. The guardian ad litem then presents a report which he or she can testify about, subject to cross examination. The guardian ad litem’s opinion is typically important to the court’s decision.

Child Representative 

For many cases, a child representative may be most appropriate, as this role combines the strengths of each of the other two roles in such a way that make it an attractive choice for the court. The Child Representative is granted all of the same investigative powers as a guardian ad litem to determine the child’s best interest.

However, the child representative does not act as a witness or make a report; rather, he or she represents the child’s best-interest position as a party to the case. Any wishes expressed by the child must be taken into account, but if they are not aligned with his or her true well-being, the child representative is not required to advocate for that position. In addition, the child’s representative’s communications with the child are protected by confidentiality.

If you have an on-going custody or visitation case and you would like the court to appoint an attorney to represent your child’s interest in the case, contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney. Call Anderson & Associates, P.C. today at 312-345-9999 for a free initial consultation. We offer five convenient offices throughout the greater Chicago area to best meet your family’s needs, including downtown, Orland Park, Schaumburg, Wheaton and Northbrook.

Seeking Visitation Rights as a Grandparent, Great-Grandparent, or Sibling

February 15th, 2015 at 4:58 pm

grandparent visitation rights, Illinois family law attorneyIllinois law allows all parents to petition the court for visitation with their children. Grandparents, great-grandparents and siblings may also petition for visitation rights under certain specific circumstances when the child’s parents unfairly deny them such rights.

The law presumes that parents make decisions regarding contact with other family members with their child’s best interests in mind. But this is not always the case.  A grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling may rebut that presumption if he or she proves that the parent’s decision harmed the child’s physical, emotional or mental health. Some factors that the court will consider regarding this decision include:

  • The child’s wishes regarding visitation, depending upon the child’s maturity level;
  • The child’s mental and physical health;
  • The petitioner’s mental and physical health;
  • The length and quality of the relationship between the petitioner and the child;
  • The petitioner’s reasons for seeking visitation rights;
  • The amount of visitation time requested by the petitioner and how it may affect the child’s normal activities;
  • Whether the petitioner resided with the child or was the child’s primary caretaker for at least six consecutive months;
  • Whether the petitioner had regular contact with the child for at least 12 consecutive months; and
  • Whether denying visitation would harm the child’s mental, physical or emotional health..

Petitioning for Visitation Rights

When a parent unreasonably denies visitation to a grandparent, great-grandparent or sibling, these individuals may petition for visitation rights if at least one of the following circumstances exists:

  • The child’s other parent is dead or has been reported missing for at least three months;
  • A parent has been deemed legally incompetent;
  • A parent was incarcerated during the three-month period before the family member filed the petition;
  • The parents are divorced, legally separated, or in the midst of a court proceeding involving custody and at least one parent does not object to visitation;
  • The child’s parents were not married when the child was born, the parents do not live together and the petitioner is related to the mother; or
  • The child’s parents were not married when the child was born, the parents do not live together, and the petitioner is related to the father who has established paternity through the court.

Note that visitation rights granted to a grandparent, great-grandparent or sibling cannot diminish the visitation rights of the unrelated parent.

If you are a grandparent, great-grandparent or sibling seeking visitation rights denied to you by the child’s parents, contact one of our family law lawyers in Chicago today. Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help you file a successful petition seeking visitation rights. Contact us for a free initial consultation. We can assist those from our offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Visitation Rights as a Grandparent

January 30th, 2015 at 12:36 pm

grandparent visitation rights in Illinois, child custody attorney in ChicagoYour son or daughter has filed for divorce or completed the divorce process with their ex-spouse and custody of the children will be or has been determined. As the grandparent, you are left wondering about your visitation rights with your grandchildren. In Illinois, grandparents can petition for visitation rights under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act if the grandchild is at least one year old, under certain conditions.

Determining Your Rights

When a grandparent is unreasonably being denied visitation with their grandchild, a grandparent may petition for visitation rights if:

  • The child’s other parent is deceased or has been missing for at least 3 months; or
  • A parent is found to be incompetent by a court of law; or
  • A parent has been incarcerated during the 3 months preceding the filing.

In addition, grandparents can file a petition for visitation if the parents are divorced or there is a pending dissolution of marriage and at least one parent does not object to visitation. In the event that the child was born to unmarried parents and the parents are not living together, maternal grandparents may file for visitation.  Paternal grandparents, however, cannot file unless paternity has been established by a court.

All of these conditions may be irrelevant if the parent is giving up their parental rights to the child. If the grandchild is being adopted by someone else, it cuts off the grandparent’s visitation rights, unless the child is adopted by certain family members or a stepparent.

Best Interests of the Child

If one of the above conditions is met, the judge will then make a decision he or she feels is in the best interest of the child after taking into account multiple statutory considerations.   In making this decision, the court presumes that a parent’s decisions regarding visitation do not harm the well-being of the child; a grandparent requesting visitation has to prove the parent’s actions and decisions are harmful to the child’s mental, physical or emotional health.

If you are looking for representation to get visitation rights for yourself or limit visitation rights for another person, contact one of our five offices in Illinois. Our Chicago grandparents’ rights attorneys assist clients from our locations in downtown Chicago, Northbrook, Orland Park, Schaumburg, and Wheaton. Anderson & Associates, P.C., can discuss your concerns and help you understand your options.