Articles Posted in Child Custody

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Introducing children to a new romantic partner, or “paramour,” during or after a divorce is a delicate matter that should be approached with careful consideration and sensitivity to the children’s needs and emotions. Here are some factors to consider when determining the appropriate timing for such introductions:

  1. Stability and Adjustment: It’s generally recommended to wait until the divorce process has reached a point where the children have had time to adjust to the changes in their family dynamics and establish a sense of stability. Rushing into introductions too soon can add additional stress and emotional harm for children still grappling with the divorce.
  2. Seriousness of the Relationship: Introducing children to a new partner should be reserved for relationships that are serious and highly likely to endure. Children can be deeply harmed  by the comings and goings of romantic partners, so it’s important to be very mindful about the emotional impact of introducing them to someone who may not turn out to be a long-term presence in their lives.
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One aspect of the divorce case I take seriously is managing the request to the judge for a guardian ad litem in a contested parenting dispute.  Sometimes, there are behavioral and psychological issues in a divorce with one of the parents, that can impact the ability of that parent to safely care for the child or children. A guardian ad litem (GAL) plays a crucial role in divorce cases, particularly when the interests of children are involved. Here’s how they typically assist the court:

  1. Representing the Best Interests of the Child: The primary role of a GAL is to advocate for the best interests of the child or children involved in the divorce. They serve as the voice of the child in court proceedings, ensuring that their needs, wishes, and welfare are considered.
  2. Investigation and Assessment: GALs conduct thorough investigations into the family dynamics, including the living conditions, relationships between the parents and the child, and any other factors that may impact the child’s well-being. This can involve interviewing the child, parents, clinicians, teachers, and other relevant parties, as well as reviewing relevant documents and records.
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I received a call today from a potential client in Illinois whose partner/spouse left the State of Illinois and set up life with the minor children in another state.  As I look back on decades of my Family Law career, I have had a number of similar cases. Sometimes, when a marriage falls apart, a spouse takes the children out of state and goes “home” to where he or she grew up and has family locally. In this situation, sometimes the spouses will file a divorce case is two different states. How does the law handle and reconcile the fact that parents have filed in two states?  This is where the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) comes in: it is a nationally (except for Massachusetts) adopted statute that provides a uniform process for Courts to determine where the case should proceed.

  1. Uniformity: Before the UCCJEA, each state in the US had its own laws regarding child custody jurisdiction. This lack of uniformity often led to conflicting custody orders and forum shopping, where parents would try to file for custody in a state they believed would rule in their favor. The UCCJEA provides consistent rules for determining which state has jurisdiction over child custody matters, promoting fairness and predictability in custody disputes across state lines.
  2. Child Protection: The primary goal of the UCCJEA is to protect the best interests of the child. By establishing jurisdictional rules based on the child’s home state and prioritizing continuity and stability in custody arrangements, the UCCJEA aims to minimize the disruption and trauma that can result from custody battles.
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In Illinois, child custody (now called allocations of parenting time and decision making) can be modified through the courts if there is a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a modification. In general, the modification will be sought after two years has expired from the original judgment, but some cases allow for a modification before two years if the issues presented are serious, or if the changes are moderate and needed to serve the interests of the child(ren).

Here are the basic steps:

  1. File a Petition in Kane County: The process begins by filing a petition with the court requesting a modification of child custody. This petition should outline the reasons and changes that have occurred in the child’s life or circumstances of the parent(s) for the requested modification, and any supporting evidence.
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Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis and the Illinois Supreme Court announced the adoption of new Rule 909 which establishes a statewide framework for courts to utilize “parenting coordinators” to resolve minor issues causing conflict in family law cases. The new Rule is effective immediately.

New Rule 909 and the Illinois Supreme Court Rules can be found here.

New Rule 909, first proposed by the Illinois State Bar Association and approved unanimously by the Supreme Court Rules Committee, allows for each Illinois judicial circuit, if it chooses, to establish a parenting coordination program via local rule. Several judicial circuits, including Cook County, already have parenting coordination programs in place.

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For parents anticipating a divorce and child custody (allocation) issues, it’s always useful to go over some checklists, both financial and child-related, to ensure that the needs of the parties and families are met as best as is possible during the pendency of the case.  Once a divorce or separation commences, it can be uncomfortable talking with the school or sports teams about the divorce, but it can be helpful and supportive to the minor children when teachers and coaches are aware of possible changes in the child’s behaviors or affect or emotional health.


1. As soon as possible, inform the school of a divorce so that school personnel can be made aware of your child’s emotional support needs.

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Most of the cases that we manage at Law Offices of Michael F Roe are complex cases, sometimes involving serious issues with child custody, and often a HCP (High Conflict Personality/Parent). Within these divorce or parentage cases the courts in Illinois follow a pattern of addressing the issues of the best interests of the minor children in terms of where the child(ren) with live primarily, and what allocation of parenting time and decision making will be awarded to each parent. Mediation, while mandatory in Illinois, usually is not effective in these complex cases. More typically, the court will initially appoint a Guardian ad Litem to investigate the circumstances of the parents and the family and give recommendations to the court on allocation of parenting time and decision making.

Practice Pointer: The role of the GAL in a child custody (allocation) case is important, but in my view, it must also be kept in mind that the role of a retained clinician (custody evaluator) is equally significant and important in a complex child custody case. As valuable as GALs are, they do not possess the clinical experience and psychological education as evaluators (most custody evaluators have Ph.Ds in psychology, or the equivalent). Many times, a good GAL in tandem with a good custody evaluator gives the Court the ability to capably assess and evaluate the best interests of children in a complex custody case. 

In this article, I discuss the role of a ‘guardian ad litem’ in Illinois.

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Spain is a wonderful place to visit. World-class museums, unique architecture, distinctive cuisine. Welcoming to tourists. But not so hospitable to parents who lodge false abuse accusations to win custody.
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Being in a relationship with a High Conflict Person (HCP) or a toxic person can be debilitating. Many adults with children will hold off on seeking help from the courts, or seeking a separation from the HCP in order to preserve the status quo for their children. But, as many are beginning to understand, children raised in a home with a HCP or toxic parent can suffer later in life.

Law Offices of Michael F. Roe has, for decades now, been managing divorce and child custody cases with HCPs.  “Understanding high conflict personalities is the missing piece in managing high conflict disputes.” – Bill Eddy, author of Splitting.

Take a look through our blog and the website for information about divorce and the HCP or personality disordered spouse.  We have the experience and the expertise to manage these cases, and open doors to a better future for parents and their children affected by HCPs.

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