Contesting the Rules of the Road in Child Custody Proceedings

 Posted on January 27, 2015 in Divorce

Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, parental rights, Divorce can be a drawn-out process, especially when children are involved. However, courts typically streamline this process by resolving child custody issues in conjunction with the related divorce. Illinois courts also recognize that the child’s best interests might differ from his or her parents’ interests. That is why courts often appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the child’s interests during the custody proceeding. To that end, the GAL might submit a rules of the road” order to the court. A rules of the road order outlines how the parents must behave in their child’s presence. For example, the order might prohibit the parents from making disparaging remarks about each other. The point is to limit the emotional toll that the proceedings already have on the child.

Some parents do not approve of rules of the road orders. In fact, one woman argues that such orders amount to an injunction (a court order restricting a party’s behavior) and must therefore comply with procedural rules.

Pending Illinois Supreme Court Case

Late last year the Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a child custody dispute involving a rules of the road order. In that case, the parents sought joint custody of their three daughters (although the mother also petitioned for sole custody in case they failed to reach an amicable arrangement). The court-appointed GAL submitted a rules of the road order, which the mother appealed as an injunction. The appellate court held that the order was not procedurally defective because it was not substantively an injunction. After all, the order only controlled the parties’ behavior until the court entered a final judgment.

The mother appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court. One of her biggest roadblocks is that the court might consider her case moot since the underlying divorce and custody issues have already been resolved. However, if the court holds that a rules of the road order is tantamount to an injunction and must adhere to certain procedural requirements, it could impact how a GAL performs his duties as well as the overall child custody proceeding.

Seeking Injunctive Relief

If courts had to approach rules of the road orders like injunctions, they would have to comply with a number of procedural requirements. For example, when a court moves for a preliminary injunction, the adverse party must be given notice. Additionally, the court can require the applicant to pay a bond that will cover any damages that result if a party’s actions are wrongfully enjoined. The court also customarily holds a hearing and will not issue the injunction without an accompanying explanation.

Contact one of our experienced Kane County family law attorneys today if you are facing a divorce or child custody dispute. We will advocate on behalf of your family’s interests. Moreover, we will be prepared if the Illinois Supreme Court issues a decision in the rules of the road case that affects your rights or responsibilities. Contact us today for a consultation. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.

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