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Cook County Custody & Visitation Law Blog

Determining visitation rights in Illinois

One of the most common issues that comes up in a divorce proceeding is who gets custody of minor children. There are many different ways that the court can rule when it comes to deciding the rights of each parent moving forward. The court could decide to grant sole custody to one parent, joint custody, or sole custody to one parent with visitation rights to the other parent.

A judge will look to see if granting visitation rights will endanger the child in a physical, emotional or moral way. A parent seeking visitation rights will also need to show that his or her home or apartment is suitable for hosting a child. If not, an alternate location for visitation may need to be found. It may be determined that visitation will occur through electronic means such as through instant messaging, videoconferencing or through email.

The implications of social media use for child support

In Illinois and nationwide, many custodial parents are left without the child support that they should be receiving from their children's noncustodial parents. In most situations, this is because the parents who should be paying child support simply cannot afford to do so because of employment or other issues. However, others do make enough money but refuse to aid their children financially.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one father is facing felony charges after post on the social networking site Facebook how much money he makes and that he had tickets to a Green Bay Packers game, and the father's social media postings have brought it to the court's attention that he can afford to pay what he had been ordered to. He had paid $189 to his son in child support in more than three years. The boy's mother says that the small amount of money was paid simply to keep the father out of jail.

A simple way to handle a divorce

Divorce cases can use collaborative law in many instances. The Uniform Collaborative Law Act was adopted in 2009 by the Uniform Law Commission and is available to be practiced in any state, including Illinois. Collaborative law is simply the idea that couples work out their own settlement, often with the help of an attorney, and avoid a court proceeding that may well not work out in a fashion that makes either party happy.

It is a process that is similar to mediation, but it does require that both parties enter voluntarily and sign a participation agreement. Also, the attorneys in the case are generally prohibited from representing either party in any future family law cases. The attorneys only negotiate and try to solve problems by addressing the major components of a divorce, which include financial, legal and mental issues, and they are not bipartisan.

Pacers player petitions for sole custody of child

NBA fans in Illinois may be interested to read that Indiana Pacers player Paul George is seeking a second paternity test as part of a custody dispute with the child's mother. While records show that the woman has previously filed a paternity test that indicated with 99.9 percent probability that George is the child's biological father, George has stated that he has various "misgivings" about the accuracy of that test. However, he also says that if the second test confirms his paternity, he will embrace it and pursue sole custody of the two-month-old.

The mother and child have been living with family in Queens since the child's birth May 1. According to George's custody petition, he is more deserving of sole custody than the mother because she is unemployed and is not seeking employment. In addition, his petition claims that he has the resources to care and provide for the child while she is "dependent" on others for assistance.

Illinois man arrested after failing to pay child support

A Chicago man has been arrested for failing to pay $70,000 in past due child support. The man turned himself in after a child support arrest warrant was issued in his name. The warrant was issued after the father failed to appear at court and make the court-ordered payment.

Many individuals are not aware of the ramifications of failing to meet their child support obligations. It must be understood that child support payments are taken very seriously by government officials. In that regard, state officials have been given the authority to treat failure to pay court mandated child support as they would a crime. The enforcement methods used can range from wage garnishment to jail time. The continuous failure to pay the amount owed only compounds the problem and can lead to even costlier repercussions.

Pet custody during divorce

Many Illinois residents consider their pets to be cherished family members, but the law takes a different position. While disputes over pets are not as common as disagreements regarding property division or child custody, they can often be just as contentious. The welfare of children is the primary consideration when custody decisions are made, but pets are viewed by the law as simply another piece of marital property.

The emotional bond that develops between a companion animal and its primary caregiver can be strong, and this may sometimes be exploited in a divorce. A spouse with little attachment to the animal could demand custody as a bargaining strategy or simply to inflict emotional stress. The most effective way to avoid this is to clearly establish pet custody in a prenuptial agreement if the pet was owned prior to the marriage or in a postnuptial agreement if the animal was acquired during the marriage.

Halle Berry to pay monthly child support of $16,000

Illinois fans of the movie actress Halle Berry may have followed recent developments during a child support case in which she was ordered on May 30 to pay $16,000 per month to the father of her 6-year-old child. Berry is married with an 8-month old son, but she has a daughter by her ex-boyfriend.

Berry and her ex have been in court before. In 2012, a judge ruled that she could not move her daughter to France. In the present case, Berry was also ordered to pay court costs of $300,000 and a retroactive payment of $115,000 to her ex-boyfriend. She will split the cost of health care for their daughter with her ex, but she will be solely responsible for the child's tuition.

Child custody battles reach across the nation

Illinois has become the latest state to involve itself in a matter that has touched family law courts across the nation. For years, courts traditionally awarded child custody to the mother of children, unless she was deemed unfit for parenthood. This preference was based on gender-role assumptions of the past, where women often stayed home and men worked outside the home to bring in money. However, a change in gender roles - namely, that women are working outside the home more than before - has prompted some advocates to argue for a change in child custody laws.

In particular, many parents are arguing for fathers to have increased rights as parents. Many fathers are connected to children and are an important part of their lives. As more women are working, more men are sharing child care duties and forming stronger bonds with their children. A father in Illinois is backing proposed legislation that would promote shared custody in the courts and assign a minimum percentage of time a child needs to spend with each parent.

Divorcing couples try collaborative efforts to ease stress

Couples heading for divorce court in Illinois may want to take advantage of a new method for settling their differences and coming to an amicable agreement. According to many experts, collaborative divorce may help the family to move forward with their lives unencumbered with the usual tension that affects everyone involved in a more typical divorce battle.

Collaborative divorce differs from the typical lawyer-led agreements because the negotiations and decisions to be made are largely placed with the parties that are filing. Some divorce attorneys and counseling professionals are seeking out training necessary to learn how to effectively guide these discussions. Unlike mediation, each collaborative divorce meeting involves both parties and those who represent them. All are present at the discussion table and issues can be openly brought up.

Rights of fathers in custody cases

Illinois parents who are going through a divorce may not know that the attitude of courts has shifted in recent decades toward increased fathers' rights. While some high-profile cases have appeared in the news of celebrities who are not married to the mothers of their children fighting for custody, in cases where the parents are married to one another, consideration tends to be given to the more stable parent and the best interests of the child regardless of gender.

Increasingly, states are moving toward a model of joint custody. Many studies back this up. As an example, a Wisconsin survey showed that from 1996 to 2007, the cases in which sole custody was awarded to the mother went from 60.4 percent to 45.7 percent while the number of joint custody resolutions doubled. Mothers also increasingly pay child support. One growing trend is a focus on the parent who seems most able to compromise and smooth out a potentially contentious relationship with the other spouse.

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