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St. Charles IL grandparent rights lawyerSometimes, parents prove unwilling or unable to take care of their children. In these scenarios, there are several options for the children to receive care, but one that is becoming increasingly common is for a grandparent or grandparents to step in. According to official state estimates, there are more than 100,000 grandparents raising their grandchildren in Illinois. If you are in a position where you may decide to raise your grandchildren, there is a process to follow to ensure everything is legally sound.

Obtaining Physical Custody and Parental Responsibilities

There are several different options for grandparents to obtain physical custody of their grandchildren and decision-making authority regarding their well-being. The one that is most commonly used is to bring an action for parental responsibility under 750 ILCS 5/601.2, which is part of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). There are two scenarios under this law in which a grandparent could conceivably obtain physical custody. The first is if the child is not in the physical custody of their parents—for example, if the parents are both deceased, or if one or both parents voluntarily abandoned the child. The second is if one parent is deceased and the other is missing or incarcerated. If either of these applies to your family situation, the IMDMA is likely the best law under which to bring your petition. 

However, if neither of these scenarios is applicable, for example, if the child is still in the custody of one or both parents and there has been no willing relinquishment of parental responsibilities, other Illinois law statutes may offer a better option. Most often, these cases will fall under the Juvenile Court Act, wherein a parent must be proven unfit in order for a grandparent to gain custody. Grandparents pursuing this option should be aware that Illinois is one of the few states in which parental rights can actually be regained after losing them, though doing so is a difficult and laborious process.

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St. Charles child custody attorneyThere is a long-standing debate among psychologists and in divorce courts as to a specific definition of the term “parental alienation syndrome”. While child psychologists have been discussing parental alienation syndrome for over three decades, the debate surrounding it continues in part because it is not always easy to correctly identify.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation syndrome, or PAS, is alleged to occur when one parent creates a contrived illusion to the child or children regarding the child’s other parent. This often leads to the child experiencing manipulated, negative emotions toward and detachment from the other parent.

In cases where there are allegations of PAS, it is often because one parent believes that the other parent is deliberately working to undermine their relationship with the child. This may occur in situations where one parent is disrespectful to the other parent in front of the children or when one parent perceives that the child has developed angry or dismissive feelings toward them due to the actions or words of the other parent. 

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Kane County child custody lawyerWhile parenting after a divorce or a breakup of unmarried parents will nearly always be challenging, your child will benefit from determined cooperation between you and your former partner. Parents have long been permitted to develop their own agreements regarding child custody—as long as they promoted the best interests of the child—however, the law in Illinois was recently amended regarding child custody and parenting concerns. Today, divorced or unmarried parents are not only allowed to create a parenting plan, but they are fully expected by the court to do so. One element that must be considered in drafting a parenting plan is each parent’s right of first refusal and whether such rights are appropriate for a particular situation.

Extra Parenting Time

At some point, all parents will need someone to watch their children. This, as you might expect, may be frustrating at times for a parent whose time with his or her child is already limited due to a divorce. On the other hand, a parent in that situation may also be looking for additional ways to participate in the child’s life. Including the right of first refusal in your parenting plan could directly address both concerns.

You and your child’s other parent may agree that if either of you ever needs someone to watch your child during your respective scheduled parenting time, you will first contact each other to offer the opportunity. For example, if your parenting time is scheduled for a certain weekend, but you are required to leave town for work, your agreement could require you to ask the other parent if he or she would like extra time with your child before finding someone else to watch your child.

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Posted on in Child Custody

Same-Sex Divorces Have Little Precedent for Child CustodyWith the legalization of same-sex marriage also came the need for same-sex divorce. Many aspects of divorce law are used equally in heterosexual and homosexual divorces. However, same-sex divorce is new territory, and decisions in cases often set new legal precedents.

Child custody (or the "allocation of parental responsibilities") is one of the trickiest parts of same-sex divorce because the process of having a child is more complicated than in a heterosexual relationship. Only one parent can claim biological rights to the child. With adopted children, the legal process of the adoption becomes important in determining parental rights. There are no laws specifically addressing same-sex divorce and custody. More general laws and court decisions are the best determiners of how a case will play out.

Biological Parent

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childrenand divorce, illinois divorce attorneyNo matter how hard parents work to reduce the stress, confusion, and hurt their children experience due to divorce, there is simply no easy way to get around the difficulties that surround the process. Divorce is emotionally taxing on everyone involved, but according to staff from the well-revered Mayo Clinic medical research center, there are certain steps you can take as parents to help make your children’s adjustment a little less painful in the long run.

Get Off On the Right Foot

While we know it is impossible for anyone to emerge from divorce completely unscathed, the transition can, at the very least, be less jarring when it is handled with care from the very beginning. This is especially true where children are concerned, as they are still developing and their emotions are heightened during stressful circumstances.

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