Tag Archive for: Parental Responsibilities

Do Parental Responsibilities Fall Under The Hague Convention?

Parental responsibility cases can be emotionally challenging and legally complex, especially when situations arise that involve parental child abduction. When family disputes span across national or international borders, the Hague Convention can prove a valuable resource for the parent left behind.

While the main goal of the Hague Convention is to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any country (which is not the child’s country of habitual residence), it does not affect or impact the decision-making process regarding custody issues (allocation of parental responsibilities), nor does it focus on the underlying merits of a custody dispute. Rather, it determines under what circumstances a child should be returned to a country for custody proceedings under that country’s laws.

Understanding how this convention applies to parental responsibility cases is crucial for parents recently filing for divorce or separation who have international connections. Unfortunately, some parents never accept the divorce and purposely cause problems, sometimes by taking their child far away from the other parent. 

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND PARENTING PLANS

In Illinois, the landscape of parental arrangements has evolved. “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” includes the division of decision-making responsibility, previously known as “legal custody,” and parenting time, previously known as “visitation,” amongst the parties.  Parenting plans outline the schedule dictating a child’s interactions with each parent after a divorce or separation. 

Without a parenting plan, no official documentation exists specifying where a child should be at any given time. This legal void can lead to situations where parents can, without repercussion, abandon their children or take them away without the explicit consent of the other parent. In the state of Illinois, according to 720 ILCS Sec. 10-5(b)(6), a parent can abduct their child if, absent a custodial order/parenting plan, “knowingly conceals” a child “for 15 days and fails to make reasonable attempts within the 15 days to notify the other parent.” Let’s take a look at how Illinois grants custody.

HOW ILLINOIS GRANTS CUSTODY

Approximately 40% of states in the United States strive to provide equal custody time for both parents. Courts consider the child’s best interests when determining parenting arrangements. They aim to confirm that the child maintains a strong and healthy relationship with both parents.

They consider the child’s age, needs, and each parent’s ability to provide a safe environment. The court may select a mother over a father if the father negatively impacts the child or vice versa. Having clear guidelines and agreements can help establish stability and promote effective co-parenting. If you are a parent facing international parental child abduction, or feel your family is at risk of such an event, let’s look at how the Hague Convention could help.

“RIGHTS OF CUSTODY” UNDER THE HAGUE CONVENTION

As previously mentioned, the Convention does not affect or impact the decision-making process regarding custody issues (allocation of parental responsibilities), nor does it focus on the underlying merits of a custody dispute. However, it aims to secure the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed to or retained in any contracting state and distinguishes between the remedies available to protect “rights of custody” and “rights of access.”

  • “Rights of custody” includes rights relating to the care of the child and the right to determine the child’s place of residence.
  • “Rights of access” includes the right to take the child for a period of time – Article 5(a).

The Convention protects rights of access without an order of return, but in some circumstances, an “access parent” may be considered to hold rights of custody and thus be entitled to an order for the child’s return under the Convention.

PROTECTING PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES ACROSS BORDERS

The Hague Convention sets out clear procedures for determining where the child normally lives and dealing with wrongful removal or retention cases. Each country appoints central authorities to resolve disputes, and courts in both the child’s home country and the country where they’re in decide on the best course of action. 

If the Convention states if the removal or retention was wrongful, then the court must order the child returned to his or her habitual residence for a custody determination, unless the responding parent (the parent who removed or retained the child ) can establish one of the following:

  1. More than one year has passed since the wrongful removal or retention and the child is settled in his or her new environment
  2. The petitioning parent was not actually exercising custody rights at the time of the removal or retention
  3. The petitioning parent had consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention
  4. The child objects to being returned and is of an age and maturity level at which it is appropriate to take account of his or her views
  5. There is a “grave risk” that the child’s return “would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation,” or
  6. The return of the child would be inconsistent with “fundamental principles … relating to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Overall, the Hague Convention helps maintain stability and consistency in parenting arrangements while protecting the rights of children and parents involved in cross-border disputes.

CHALLENGES TO CONSIDER

Parents often face hurdles when dealing with international parenting disputes. One of the most significant challenges is simply navigating another country’s legal system. This can involve language barriers, unfamiliar legal procedures, and cultural differences, making it difficult for parents to advocate for their rights effectively. 

Additionally, parents may struggle to locate and communicate with their children, especially if the other parent is hiding them. In some cases, parents may also face obstacles related to travel, such as visa restrictions or prohibitive travel costs. International parental responsibility cases can be highly stressful and emotionally taxing for parents. That’s why having the right support and guidance is essential throughout the process.

GETTING THE HELP YOU NEED

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction can be a valuable resource for resolving abduction cases involving international borders, prioritizing their well-being. 

But to navigate these complex cases successfully, seeking legal counsel with knowledge and experience in Hague proceedings is extremely valuable. Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have extensive experience in cases involving international parental disputes in courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system. 

Our profound understanding and proficiency with The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“The Hague Convention”), enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”), empowers us to help advocate thoroughly and effectively. 

Highlighted Hague Decisions:

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Divorce and Sexual Assault

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, shedding light on a sensitive topic often surrounded by silence and stigma. Within the broader context of family law, divorce can intersect with issues of family violence and sexual assault, requiring delicate legal handling. 

Nationwide, 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and assault in their lifetime. The effects of sexual assault and harassment can cause physical harm and emotional wounds that are endured for years.

In such instances, seeking assistance from a family law attorney can prove crucial for navigating the complexities of divorce and obtaining necessary protection orders. In today’s blog, we will explore the significance of legal support in these situations and how it can empower individuals to protect themselves and their families. Here’s what you need to know.

THE ROLE OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH

Sexual Assault Awareness Month serves the critical purposes of shedding light on the severity of domestic violence, debunking myths, and dispelling stereotypes. Through education about the signs and impacts of abuse, individuals gain the tools to recognize and address it effectively. This month reinforces the message that survivors have support and resources.

Moreover, Sexual Assault Awareness Month underscores the importance of prevention through community engagement and educational initiatives. It encourages discussions about healthy relationships, consent, and bystander intervention. Let’s learn more about domestic violence and how it can be prevented.

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

Domestic violence/domestic abuse is typically manifested as a pattern of abusive behavior toward an intimate partner in a dating or family relationship, where the abuser exerts power and control over the victim. Domestic abuse can be mental, physical, economic or sexual in nature.

Regrettably, domestic violence transcends boundaries and can affect individuals of any gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Its wide-ranging repercussions impact not only the immediate victims but also the children who witness such abuse.

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA) identifies several forms of abuse, including:

  1. Physical abuse (including sexual abuse)
  2. Harassment
  3. Intimidation of a dependent
  4. Interference with personal liberty
  5. Willful deprivation
  6. Exploitation
  7. Stalking

The warning signs of abuse may not manifest immediately and can evolve as the relationship progresses. However, it’s important to recognize that each relationship is unique, and domestic violence can manifest in various forms. One common trait among abusive relationships is the abuser’s attempt to establish power and control through various methods at different stages. Fortunately, there are strategies available to help protect you from this abuse.

ORDERS OF PROTECTION: A VITAL LIFELINE

Divorce proceedings can intensify tensions within a relationship, potentially worsening existing instances of family violence or leading to new forms of abuse. Additionally, survivors may disclose incidents of sexual assault during this tumultuous period. It’s crucial to recognize that survivors of sexual assault may face heightened vulnerability during divorce proceedings, often encountering threats, coercion, or manipulation from their abuser.

Fortunately, Orders of Protection (restraining orders) serve as a legal mechanism to shield survivors of family violence and sexual assault from further harm. These court orders can establish boundaries, prohibit contact, and provide security for individuals and their children. Survivors need to know that they do not have to face this process alone. Getting an order of protection requires a comprehensive understanding of legal procedures, evidence requirements, and advocacy skills.

A family law attorney can help provide legal resources and support services to assist in navigating an order of protection. By seeking the assistance of a compassionate and dedicated legal team, survivors can take crucial steps towards reclaiming their autonomy and finding security and peace of mind.

IF CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED

Unlike allegations of domestic violence, accusations of sexual abuse, particularly child molestation, are typically not made lightly. Such accusations are infrequent and receive intense scrutiny. The courts typically respond by appointing a Guardian ad Litem to investigate, with an expectation that the accusing parent has made every effort to investigate, document, and halt the sexual misconduct as soon as suspicion arose.

If accusations of sexual abuse, especially concerning children, arise within your marriage, immediate arrangements for a medical examination of the victim or alleged victim, even if that victim is yourself, are imperative. Subsequently, contacting an attorney should be a priority. Taking swift action can be pivotal in establishing the truth in court.

THE ROLE OF A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY

In the face of such challenges, the guidance of a knowledgeable family law attorney can be valuable. Family law attorneys have experience in navigating the complexities of divorce cases involving family violence and sexual assault. At Masters Law Group, we aim to protect you and your children’s best interests. Here are some of the areas that we can help you navigate: 

  • Parenting Time: If you have children, work closely with your attorney to determine the best parenting time plan. This helps to ensure that the agreed-upon arrangements prioritize your children’s well-being and best interests.
  • Mediation: Explore options such as mediation or collaborative divorce to help you and your ex-spouse reach mutually beneficial agreements outside of court. Your family law attorney can help guide you through these processes and represent your best interests during negotiations.
  • Post-divorce disputes: After the divorce is finalized, circumstances may require modifications to allocating parental responsibilities, visitation, or support arrangements. Stay in touch with your attorney to address any changes or issues that may arise in the future.
  • Orders of Protection: In cases where an order of protection is granted, attorneys monitor compliance and take swift action against any violations. This proactive approach reinforces the efficacy of legal measures and prioritizes the safety of survivors and their families.

In addition to representing clients, Senior Partner Erin E. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters.  Furthermore, Senior Partner Anthony G. Joseph is also on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Remember, during this challenging period, Masters Law Group is here to support you and your legal rights. Working with our trusted attorneys can help alleviate the stress associated with domestic disputes, helping ensure a smoother transition for both you and your children.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

In Chicago, there is a wide range of community resources available to support survivors of sexual assault. The Domestic Violence Legal Clinic provides legal assistance and advocacy services, helping ensure survivors can access legal remedies. The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network serves as a comprehensive resource hub, connecting survivors to various shelters, counseling, and legal aid services throughout the city.

Hospitals like the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago also provide comprehensive medical care and forensic exams for survivors seeking immediate assistance. These community resources play a vital role in supporting survivors to help them heal and seek justice in the aftermath of sexual assault.

LAST THOUGHTS

As we observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it’s crucial to recognize the intersection of divorce, family violence, and sexual abuse. Shedding light on these issues can empower survivors to take proactive steps toward safety and justice. 

At Masters Law Group, our skilled family law attorneys are here to help navigate the complexities of divorce while prioritizing the well-being of survivors and their families. Let us strive to create a society where survivors are heard, supported, and empowered,

Contact us here today.

Parental Child Abduction: What to Do When You Don’t Have a Parenting Plan

Parental child abduction is a deeply distressing situation that can shatter the lives of both parents and children. When in threat of such a crisis, having a clear plan in place can make all the difference. 

In the state of Illinois, specific procedures and legal frameworks exist to address parental child abduction cases. In this blog, we will explore the vital role of having a parenting plan and the crucial steps to take if your child is abducted. Here’s what you need to know.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A PARENTING PLAN

Any parent with a child custody case needs a parenting plan. Child custody is called parental responsibilities in Illinois. The plan needs to be created and filed within 120 days of the case’s start.

A parenting plan is a comprehensive document outlining parental responsibilities and parenting time arrangements for the child. Typically, it is a product of mutual agreement between both parents or a court-determined arrangement when agreement proves elusive. A parenting plan helps bring structure into a child’s life. It also holds parents accountable when caring for their children. Furthermore, it establishes clear consequences if either parent fails to meet their obligations.

Without a parenting plan in place, no official documentation exists specifying where a child should be at any given time. This legal void can lead to situations where parents can, without repercussion, abandon their children or take them away without the explicit consent of the other parent.

In the state of Illinois, according to 720 ILCS Sec. 10-5(b)(6), a parent can abduct their child if, absent a custodial order/parenting plan, “knowingly conceals” a child “for 15 days and fails to make reasonable attempts within the 15 day period to notify the other parent.”

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES: PROTECTING FROM CHILD ABDUCTION

Experiencing a parental child abduction situation can be a difficult situation to endure. Unfortunately, many parental abduction cases stem from one parent’s frustration at not being able to spend enough time with their children. In these situations, parents fail to realize that their actions can be classified as abduction.

A well-structured parenting plan outlines parental responsibilities and helps define the child’s living arrangements, visitation schedules, and decision-making processes. This level of detail and clarity helps both parents understand their roles and responsibilities. In cases where parents have a documented plan, any violations can be easily identified and addressed within the legal framework. In turn, it helps to prevent situations that may lead to accusations of abduction.

There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois. Let’s see what each entails.

  • Joint Parental Responsibility: Parents cooperate on education, healthcare, and religious decisions. It doesn’t necessarily mean equal living time. A residential parent is chosen, while the non-residential parent pays child support and has specified parenting time.
  • Sole Parental Responsibility: One parent has sole authority for all child-related decisions, but the other parent remains involved through parenting time arrangements.
  • Shared Parental Responsibility: This is a group effort of joint parental responsibility where the child spends equal time with both parents, lives in the same school district, and jointly parent the child.

Now that we have a clear understanding of each parental responsibility let’s see how cases of parental child abduction can affect married and unmarried parents in Illinois.

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR MARRIED AND UNMARRIED PARENTS IN ILLINOIS

In Illinois, parenting plans play a crucial role in the context of parental child abduction cases, as they provide the legal framework for addressing these complex situations. Illinois laws can help differentiate scenarios involving married and unmarried parents, each with its considerations.

For Unmarried Parents in Illinois:

  • Initial Default: The mother has sole custody until paternity is established.
  • Establishing Paternity: Various legal processes, such as voluntarily acknowledging paternity or pursuing a court-ordered paternity test, can determine each parent’s legal rights and responsibilities.
  • Priority: Regarding parental responsibility cases, the primary concern is the child’s best interests.

For Married Parents in Illinois:

  • Encouraged Parenting Plan: The court encourages tailored custody and visitation plans for married parents.
  • Court Intervention: If an agreement is not reached, the court may intervene to establish parental responsibility.
  • Primary Consideration: Regardless of marital status, the child’s best interests remain the primary consideration in custody matters.

Parental responsibilities in Illinois serve as a foundational component in addressing parental child abduction cases. They can help provide a legal structure to navigate these challenging situations while prioritizing the child’s best interests. Whether parents are married or unmarried, Illinois law can establish custody and visitation arrangements that are essential in preventing and resolving parental child abduction cases.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS ABDUCTED

Traumatic events like parental child abduction can be emotionally challenging, and the well-being of both parties should consider counseling or support groups as valuable resources for coping with the distressing situation. If the other parent has abducted your child without a parenting plan in place, take immediate action:

  • Contact Law Enforcement: Report the abduction to your local law enforcement agency. Please provide them with as much information as possible about the child, the other parent, and their whereabouts.
  • File for Custody Orders: Petition the court for custody orders that establish your legal rights to the child. The court will consider the child’s best interests when making a decision.
  • Seek Legal Assistance: Consult a skilled family law attorney with experience in child abduction cases. They can guide you through the legal process and help you file a petition for your child’s return. Working with a child abduction attorney can help secure the safe return of your child.

HOW A CHILD ABDUCTION ATTORNEY CAN HELP

Working with a child abduction attorney is crucial in parental child abduction cases. The legal process can be complex, but you can work towards the best outcome for your child’s well-being with the right support. When you partner with an experienced child abduction attorney, such as those at Masters Law Group, you gain the support needed to advocate for your family’s best interests. Here’s how they can assist you:

  • Legal Advice: Child abduction attorneys deeply understand the relevant laws and regulations.
  • Expedited Legal Proceedings: They can help expedite the legal process, increasing the chances of a swift resolution.
  • International Experience: A child abduction attorney can work with the proper authorities to prevent your child from leaving the country.
  • Hague Convention: If your child is taken to another country, they can help you navigate the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Convention helps facilitate the safe return of children.

WORKING WITH MASTERS LAW GROUP

Preventing parental child abduction is critical for any parent facing parenting time disputes or separation. Support from a child abduction attorney can help reduce the risk of abduction and protect your family’s well-being. Our Senior Attorneys, Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph, have extensive experience in cases involving international parenting time disputes in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court systems.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

 

Back to School: 5 Tips for Co-Parenting

Back to school comes with a lot of nerves and excitement for children and families. For parents who are separated, in the middle of a divorce, or  already divorced, co-parenting with your ex can be a challenge.  At this time of year however, your children need you to put aside your animosity in order to make their school year a success.

After a divorce, working with your child’s other parent may be uncomfortable to say the least. But making the effort to cooperate with your co-parent and your child’s school set-up can make things easier for everyone. That’s especially true now, with emerging strains of COVID-19, and now Monkeypox concerns clouding parents’ vision of the 2022-2023 school year.

We know it can be hard to get on the same page with your ex. We also know that you want what’s best for your children—and that means being able to communicate effectively with each other in order to ensure they get the education they deserve.

Here’s what you should know about co-parenting this fall and a couple of tips to help you prepare for your child’s 2022-2023 school year.

Share Obligations for Back to School Shopping

As the school year approaches, it’s important to remember that back-to-school shopping is a shared responsibility. Shopping for materials and supplies can be costly, especially if you’re buying them for more than one child. While many parents are happy to help their children pick out new clothes and supplies, others may not be as excited about the process of buying “boring” mandatory necessities. Make a clear plan of who is buying what, and when, to ensure your child doesn’t miss out on those soccer boots or rucksack (plus you’ll avoid duplication of expenses).

Keep a Predictable Parenting Time Schedule

Stay ahead of any anticipated disputes by designing, implementing, and complying with a detailed Parenting Time plan. Creating a parenting time schedule can be an emotional law topic and should have been set during your divorce proceedings. If this is not the case, it’s important for parent-child relationships to have consistency in their schedule, and therefore you need to set one immediately.

For parents, it helps both people keep track of the child’s activities. For children, it helps give them a sense of routine, security, and certainty that is an important part of healthy child development.

Inform Your Child’s School of Your Co-Parenting Arrangements

When your kids start a new school year, it’s important to make sure that the school knows who they should talk to in case of emergencies. And even more importantly, who they should release your children to after school.

At the start of each school year, provide the principal at your children’s school with a copy of your child custody and parenting time order. This is especially true if your custody/parenting time order has been modified over the past year, or if your kids have changed schools. This includes children who are graduating from elementary to middle or from middle to high school. This will put the school on notice about who they should talk to in case of emergencies, and who to release your children to after school to avoid conflict.

Coordinate Events with Your Co-Parent 

It can be difficult to attend school functions when you’re divorced. Your co-parent may not want you to go, or they might want you to attend but won’t be there themselves. If this is the case, make sure your child knows who will be attending without making it seem like the non-attending parent didn’t want to go.

Sporting events, class plays and class graduations are all important to your child and their development. They will ultimately suffer if you end up clashing at these important milestones. For their sake, try to cooperate with one another to attend school events together as a show of unity and support. If that isn’t a possibility, make sure your child knows who will be attending so they’re not on the lookout for ultimate disappointment.

Set Expectations and Remember Your Priorities

The first few weeks of school can be a bit chaotic. It’s important to remember that it’s not just your child who is adjusting to new teachers, new classrooms, and new classmates—you are too!

When you and your co-parent are starting back-to-school planning, make sure you’re both on the same page. Back-to-school time opens a door for conflict, but conflict results in the child/children suffering.

You and your co-parent need to know what is expected of each other. Who is going to help with homework? Who will take your child to football practice? Maybe mom helps one child and dad is responsible for helping the other. Maybe you take it in weekly or biweekly turns. There is no right answer, but whatever arrangement you and your co-parent decide upon should be detailed in your parenting plan to eliminate confusion in the future.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

If you STILL cannot come to a civil agreement on parenting time, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities is an actionable step to set a new plan in place.

There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois — joint allocation of parental responsibilities, sole allocation of parental responsibilities and shared allocation of parental responsibilities:

Joint allocation of parental responsibilities requires parents to cooperate in decision-making regarding your child’s education and schooling matters, (amongst other decisions such as health care and religious instruction). It does not mean that the children live with each parent for an equal amount of time. The parties will agree or the court will assign a residential parent. The non-residential parent will pay child support and exercise parenting time. The amount of time the children spends with the non-residential parent is addressed in a parenting time agreement or order.

Sole allocation of parental responsibilities is the term that describes the arrangement that gives one parent the responsibility for deciding everything related to the child’s welfare. It does not mean that the other parent is out of the picture.

Shared allocation of parental responsibilities is a form of joint allocation of parental responsibilities. It is appropriate when the child spends equal time with each parent, the parents reside in the same school district and are able to joint parent.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

Masters Law Group LLC focuses on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. Attorney Erin E. Masters is a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Attorney Anthony G. Joseph is also on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

We offer a variety of services to help parents, children, and families through difficult times like Divorce, Parenting Time and Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. If you are in need of legal assistance, contact a member of our team today. Our attorneys will work with you to develop an action plan that is fair and fits your unique needs and goals. 

We will work diligently on your behalf and provide regular updates throughout the process. You can count on us when it matters most—and we hope that means now! Contact us today to speak to a qualified Chicago family law attorney to set up a free consultation with us.

 

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.