Tag Archive for: Illinois family law

What Happens if I File for Divorce in Illinois but my Child Lives Somewhere Else?

While it is fairly common for someone to move to a different state once they separate from their spouse, doing so can present potential difficulties when formally filing. Add children to the mix, and the situation rapidly becomes more complex. Here’s what you need to know. 

All states require that the spouse who files for divorce be a resident of the state in which they file their divorce petition.  If you’re seeking an Illinois divorce and have children, you may be wondering what the proper steps are to take. You may also want to know how you can get full custody in Illinois, and what criteria a judge uses to determine a child’s best interests.

Here, Masters Law Group provides an overview of Illinois custody laws and answers to common questions about custody in Illinois, cross-border custody, and international custody matters via the Hague Convention. If you have additional questions after reading this article, contact your trusted law attorneys at Masters Law Group. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

Establishing Child Custody in Illinois

The term “custody” is no longer used in the law. It is now called “parental responsibilities.” This includes parenting time (formerly “visitation”) and decision-making power.

Divorcing parents who live in Illinois will receive an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities/custody order as part of their divorce case. Things can get complicated if parents live in different states or a parent has recently moved into or out of the state. Before an Illinois judge can issue a custody order, the Illinois court must have jurisdiction over your case.

In order to avoid conflicting custody opinions from courts in different states, a law called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) sets the rules on which court has jurisdiction. 

Among other things, the UCCJEA determines which state is the child’s “home state” for custody matters. Courts in the home state have jurisdiction over custody litigation involving that child and are the only ones that can hear a custody case for that child.

Illinois has jurisdiction to hear a child custody case if:

  • The child has lived in Illinois for the last six months.
  • The child lives out of state, but lived in Illinois within the past six months and one of the child’s parents still lives in the state.
  • No other state is the child’s home state and either (1) the child and at least one parent have significant connections with Illinois, and (2) substantial evidence exists in Illinois concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships.

The UCCJEA and associated rules can be complex and hard to understand. If you’re unsure whether your child custody case should be heard in Illinois or in another state, you should consult with an experienced attorney. 

Determining a Child’s Best Interests in Illinois

Even when parents agree on custody, a judge must ultimately determine what custody arrangement would be in the child’s best interests. The emphasis in a custody determination is not on which parent is “better or worse”, but solely on the child’s safety and happiness. 

Here are some of the following factors to consider:

  • Both parent’s wishes.
  • The child’s wishes.
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community.
  • The parents’ and child’s physical and mental health.
  • Whether there has been physical violence by either parent, either directed against the child or another person.
  • Whether there has been ongoing or repeated domestic violence, either directed against the child or directed against another person.
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.

Every case is unique, and the court is free to decide what weight to give to these and other factors in making its decision. However, Illinois custody laws expressly state that the court should not consider a parent’s marital conduct unless it affects that parent’s relationship with the child. Judges will typically give both parents maximum involvement in the child’s life.

Can a Parent With Primary Physical Custody Relocate Out of State?

Illinois Courts require that a parent looking to permanently relocate a child from the State of Illinois have a written agreement and/or Court Order allowing the move.  There are a variety of factors the Court will consider in adjudicating whether the move is within your child’s best interest.  The parent who wants to relocate with the child out of state bears the burden of proving that the move serves the child’s best interests. A court must consider the following factors in determining whether a proposed move to another state is in the best interests of the child:

  • Whether the move will enhance the general quality of life for both the custodial parent and the child.
  • Whether the custodial parent’s proposed move is a ruse to frustrate or defeat the other parent’s visitation rights with the child.
  • The motives of the noncustodial parent in resisting the removal.
  • Whether a reasonable visitation schedule can be achieved if the move is allowed.

The parent seeking to move must prove that it is in the best interests of the child, not just the parent’s best interests. A judge will want to address housing arrangements, job opportunities, neighborhood and school quality, available activities for the child, and a well-considered plan to keep the child in touch with the left-behind parent. Some judicial districts in Illinois are more lenient about allowing removal than others. An experienced lawyer will know what to expect from the judges in your district.

Unless the parties have agreed in writing to the contrary, a custodial parent may remove the children to another part of the state without a court order. However, because this will bring about a significant disruption in the child’s relationship to the other parent, such a move could be considered a material change in the child’s circumstance, which could be the foundation of a petition for custody modification.

A permanent relocation is different from a vacation. Parents are free to take the child out of state on a temporary vacation as long as the court order allows it and the traveling parent provides the other parent the address and telephone number where the child may be reached while out of state, and the date on which the child will return to Illinois. 

What Happens if my Ex Want to Move Across International Borders?

International child custody cases are on the rise due to the mobility of couples who either desire to live abroad, move back to their home country or who receive international job assignments.

While legal issues involving Parental Responsibilities are common, many do not know what to do when their child/children are taken overseas. It’s important for the residents of the Greater Chicagoland area who share custody of their children know about the ins and outs of the Hague Convention should this occur.

Accredited family law attorneys Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph of Masters Law Group have extensive experience in cases involving international child abduction disputes in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system.

Masters Law Group Featured Hague Decisions:

At Masters Law Group, we know the requirements parents must abide by when they want to move, and we know how to challenge the move so you do not lose out on time with your child.

Final Thoughts

If you’re faced with an out-of-state divorce or international custody battle, our skilled and knowledgeable family law attorneys can help educate you on your options, and provide legal assistance if your child is being taken out of Illinois. 

Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation and that our clients want to move on with their lives. Especially when children are involved. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients’ assurance and well being in mind.

Our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most. Schedule a consultation with us today to discuss our divorce services.

Can I Protect my Kids From Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse, which is sometimes called psychological abuse, is a pattern of behavior that damages a child’s sense of self worth and negatively impacts their emotional development. Here’s what you can do if you suspect your child is suffering at the hands of a family member.

The holiday season is not the most wonderful time of the year for so many people and families. But for many around the world, it’s a challenging time where family law issues are temporarily swept under the carpet to be dealt with at a later date. Perhaps you have waited to file a divorce or find protective orders until the holidays are over? But when it comes to the wellbeing of your child, you need to take action now. 

Here is everything you need to know about emotional child abuse and how you can take action to protect yourself and your children. 

What is Emotional Abuse?

If you hear a story about abuse of children, specifically when it comes to physical or sexual abuse by parents, it seems inconcievable and anger is most likely your response. You could never imagine what parents could do this to their child, or that this would ever happen in your own home. However, not all signs of abuse are physical. What if parental abuse comes in a different less visible form? What if no one is physically hurt, but there is parental emotional abuse through words and actions? 

The definition of emotional abuse, otherwise known as psychological abuse, is a pattern of behavior that damages a child’s sense of self worth and negatively impacts their emotional development.

Love and support is withheld, and oftentimes the person emotionally abusing the child also may reject, threaten, criticize, demean, and purposefully agitate the child. Abusers may also humiliate the child, participate in name-calling towards the child, and insult the child regularly. Although an emotionally abused child might not end up in the hospital with a broken bone or a concussion, the effects of emotional abuse can be damaging and long-lasting. In 2017, 2.3% of children in the United States experienced psychological or emotional maltreatment according to a report prepared by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. However, this estimate is likely low because emotional abuse can be harder to detect than other forms of child abuse and typically takes place in the confines of a child’s home. 

Emotional abuse can be found in conjunction with physical or sexual abuse, and it is also one of the most difficult forms of abuse to recognize. Abuse in all forms is largely due to the need of power and control by the abuser, and emotional abuse is no different. In these abusive environments, the culprit manipulates and controls the child by using words and actions that are emotionally hurtful and damaging.

Identifying Emotional Abuse in Children

Emotional abuse experienced by a child may show certain behaviors that can be telling signs which you should watch out for. This would include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low performance in school
  • Loss of interest in social activities or other interests
  • Avoiding activities involving family bonding
  • Attempts to avoid certain situations (such as going to an activity or another person’s house)
  • Stunted development of emotions
  • Desire to self harm or inflict harm on others
  • Desperately seeking affection and attention from other adults
  • Regression of childhood development (a common example of this is bed wetting after previously mastering bladder and bowel control)
  • Complaining of stomach aches or other bodily symptoms with no known cause

While this behavior does not directly equate to a child experiencing psychological abuse, one or several of these behavioral symptoms can be a sign that there is protection needed for your child. Any signs of this behavior in children could be grounds for requesting an Order of Protection due to harassment or willful deprivation. 

Emotional Abuse Treatment

In the past, emotional and psychological abuse were not readily recognized in the eyes of the law. In today’s times, emotional abuse is often considered a major factor in family law cases and is reviewed closely in child abuse matters. In cases involving certain offenses, an individual should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced family law attorney in your area, who can assist with reporting emotional abuse or protection for themselves or loved ones.

Priority number one is always to ensure the safety of the child, of course. If your child is being emotionally abused, there are several steps that can be taken to mitigate the risk of the situation at hand prior to legal help. The perpetrator of the abuse may need to go through treatment for their behavior, especially if the abuser is a parent of the child. Treatment can come in several different forms, which could include parenting classes, therapy individually or as a family, and even social services can be involved.

In addition to treatment for the abuser, the child experiencing the abuse will also most likely require medical attention. Those receiving the abuse and the repercussions may also benefit from therapy, either individually or with their family. Once they have the opportunity to process the emotional trauma, they are also aware of healthy coping mechanisms and how to resolve conflict in a healthier way.

If the abuse can’t be treated from these standpoints, and it needs to be escalated to legal assistance, Masters Law Group is here to help you with divorce consultation or an issuance of Order of Protection in the state of Illinois.

Emotional Abuse Protection

If you’re a parent and think your child is being emotionally abused by someone else—such as an ex, a teacher, a pastor, or coach—take steps to intervene.

Encourage the child in your life to contact the Child Helpline if they need some extra support to cope with what has been happening. They may find talking to somebody outside of the situation helpful. You could also try calling the National Parent Helpline in your state to discuss your concerns.

While all forms of abuse can feel like a never-ending hopeless situation, Masters Law Group is here to help you see a light at the end of the tunnel. We provide an array of family law services including Orders of Protection and divorce services for our clients. Our highly experienced family law attorneys offer skillful legal representation that will guide you through to safety for your children and yourself.

Get in touch with us here today to discuss and execute the best plan of action for you and your family.

Illinois Super Lawyers Recognize Masters Law Group Attorneys

Masters Law Group is proud to announce the firm’s Attorneys named by Super Lawyers in  both ‘Rising Stars’ and ‘Super Lawyer’ categories. 

Masters Law Group attorneys Erin Masters was named Super Lawyer list by Illinois Super Lawyers Magazine in 2020 and now 2021. Additionally, the firm’s Illinois-based attorney, Anthony Joseph was also granted the 2020 Illinois Rising Stars list as well.

The Super Lawyers designation, conferred upon the most respected legal practitioners in the state, is based upon peer recognition and professional achievement. No more than five percent of the lawyers in each state are selected by the research team to receive this honor. Rising Stars are those up-and-coming attorneys who are 40 years of age or younger and have practiced law for 10 years or less. No more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team to receive this honor.

About Erin Masters

Erin E. Masters is the principal of Masters Law Group, located in Chicago, Illinois. The firm handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. Masters Law Group concentrates in area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and Hague Convention/ international child abduction matters.

Ms. Masters earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, where she attended on a merit based scholarship, was a member of the Athlete Honor Roll, a participant of the NCAA Division II Track and Field Team and graduated in three (3) years with Provost’s Honors.

Ms. Masters received her Juris Doctorate and Certificate in Child and Family Law from Loyola University of Chicago, School of Law, in May of 2004. She was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2004 and to the General Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2005 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020. Ms. Masters was admitted to the United States Supreme Court in March 2009.

In addition to representing clients, Ms. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, she has also been appointed by the Circuit Court of Cook County to mediate complex family law cases. Since 2016, Ms. Masters has been named “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers and has been named as an “Emerging Lawyer” by Leading Lawyers.

About Anthony Joseph

Anthony G. Joseph is an attorney at the firm of Masters Law Group, LLC. Mr. Joseph received his B.A. degree in Global Economic Relations from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.

He obtained both his J.D. degree and Certificate in Trial Advocacy from The John Marshall Law School. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2010, the Federal General Bar and Trial Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2012 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020.

Mr. Joseph is an active trial lawyer. Mr. Joseph publishes in the area of civil litigation. Mr. Joseph has also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University. Mr. Joseph is “AV” Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review, which is the highest peer review rating available and has been named a “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers in both 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Mr. Joseph concentrates his practice in area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities and child support. Mr. Joseph has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time as well as prosecuted and defended Orders of Protection. Ms. Joseph has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support,. Mr. Joseph has also litigated cases in both state court and multiple United States Federal Courts involving The Hague Convention and international child abduction issues.

About Super Lawyers

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

According to Super Lawyers, the “Rising Stars” and “Super Lawyers” selection process is a comprehensive, good-faith, and detailed attempt to produce a list of lawyers who have attained high peer recognition, meet ethical standards, and have demonstrated some degree of achievement in their field.

Selection Process

Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.

For more information about Super Lawyers, visit SuperLawyers.com.

Contact Masters Law Group

Masters Law Group LLC has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field. Schedule a consultation here to speak with an attorney regarding your family law matter today.

Child Custody During COVID-19 and The Holidays

Dealing with child custody issues is stressful enough. Dealing with child custody issues during the COVID holidays poses an entirely complicated dilemma. Here’s how keep the magic alive for your children and ensure that the 2020 holidays are your best yet.

Shared custody is raising COVID-19 concerns as kids travel between households for the holidays this year. Millions of children split their time between parents every week and even more so during the holidays, but concerns over pandemic safety can make that time even more stressful.

Parents are facing unforeseen issues this year such as:

  • The child having to travel to another part of the state, or another state altogether, to visit their parent
  • One parent living in a COVID-19 hotspot
  • One parent had COVID-19 or is currently experiencing symptoms
  • One parent is not being careful about COVID-19 and could be putting the child in danger
  • One parent does not feel the virus is a true health threat
  • One parent is immunocompromised and in isolation
  • There may be a second wave and more shelter-in-place orders

These new and complex issues may be even more difficult if the courts backed up with cases because of the nationwide lockdowns this past year.

If you’re concerned about COVID-19 and your child’s holiday visitation schedule, then there are steps you can take to work it out with your co-parent, and then go directly to the court to ensure it is legally binding.

Parenting Time COVID Rules

Unless your specific court order prevents out-of-state travel or has other restrictions, then generally speaking, each parent may choose to travel during the holidays even during the pandemic, whether or not the other parent agrees. However, violating state travel laws, CDC and state quarantine guidelines and court-ordered visitation arrangements can potentially affect a custody case. Furthermore, personal issues may also arise when one parent feels safe with airline travel or interstate travel and the other parent prefers to stay at home and self-isolate.

First and foremost, if you chose to travel with your children during the holidays, check in advance for any quarantine restrictions. Following state-imposed guidelines while traveling and attending events during the holidays will help minimize or reduce any potential impact to your custody arrangement.

In Illinois, the Department of Public Health (IDPH) is offering recommendations on how to celebrate safer during the COVID-19 pandemic.  During a time when social distancing and limiting the number of people at gatherings is important, special considerations should be taken.

“COVID-19 has changed the way we work, live, and play, and will now change how we plan to celebrate the holidays,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “While the safest way to celebrate is with members of your household and connecting with others virtually, we know, for many, the holidays are all about family and friends, so we want to provide some tips on how to celebrate safer.”

The guidelines also say if you are hosting a holiday gathering, limit the number of guests and try to have as many activities outside as weather permits.

What this Means for Separated Parents

This is going to be a long winter for our country, businesses, schools, and families — no doubt. It will take a child-focused, selfless perspective by countless co-parents this holiday season in how to best approach visitation and traditions with families and children.

First and foremost, you must remember that child custody agreements in Illinois, and in every other state, are legally binding. As long as a parent is following these state guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions, most judges will not alter custody orders to prevent one parent from traveling with the children.

While it’s tempting to want to ask that you have your children for the entire holiday season, you should not be angry or upset with your ex-partner if you are denied this due to the schedule set by the court. This year, it is highly suggested that people who live together celebrate together, rather than mixing households. Consider hosting a virtual holiday get together or check in with your kids and mailing your gifts instead. We know it hurts to not be able to visit your children for the holidays, but if it means risking your own life to do so, it’s worthwhile to heavily consider the alternatives.

If you believe a holiday visitation or celebration could place your child and your family at a heightened risk for COVID-19, you should communicate this fact to the other parent and/or your attorney. Offer some safer options and attempt to be as flexible and compassionate as possible. Always try to set emotion aside and as parents, choose what is best for your children and your family as a whole.

Final Thoughts

This is going to be a long winter for our country, businesses, schools, and families — no doubt. It will take a child-focused, selfless perspective by countless co-parents this holiday season in how to best approach visitation and traditions with families and children. Most of all, keep in mind who the holidays are the most special for: your children.

If you need legal assistance to modify a child custody or parenting time agreement to reflect new choices that better keep your family safe, contact the experienced attorneys at Masters Law Group. We represents individuals in both their initial quest to set a parenting time schedule, as well as parents looking to modify a previously determined schedule.