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Articles Posted in Child Custody

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BLOWBACK FOR DIVORCE POISON! MOTHER JAILED, ORDERED TO PAY $84K, AND STRIPPED OF CUSTODY
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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Below is a synopsis of two new bills signed into law that affect Family Law practice.  HB4121 sets a minimum standard for GALs in terms of their obligation to interview the parents and the children.  Now, most of us would agree that a period of 90 days is too long, and that most competent GALs make a practice of meeting with the parents and children within days or weeks of the appointment of the GAL.  This legislation may be addressing a concern that some GALs ( and I have seen this in operation) can be quite dilitory about their work, and some simply do not accept that the role of a GAl involves competence and diligence.  In most cases, judges and lawyers know who the good GALs are, and those appointments are often made with this understanding in mind. However, there are cases that involve GALs who do competent work, but may not visit with the children as often as they might, and this issue then becomes an area for criticism when the case goes to trial. HB4121 sets a minimum standard, to which GALs either conform, or risk some sanction for failing to do so.

HB2741 is an important change. The IMDMA was amended in 2016 to allow the Court to appoint a clinician to perform therapy in a family law case, with certain underlying findings being made. The hitch has been for a few years that the therapy process and feedback from the clinicians was barred insofar as communication with a GAL was concerned. In my view, this placed the process of therapy into a difficult position where children were concerned, insofar as the GAL has a statutory duty to investigate all aspects of the child’s life to determine the custodial best interests of the child. Now, with this amendment, the GAL may do his/her work to the fullest extent by allowing the feedback from the clinician so long as the HIPAA and Illinois Mental Health Act provisions are followed.

IMDMA GALs

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My divorce and post decree clients that have people with traits of toxic narcissism often struggle with trying to explain or discuss what it can be like living with someone with such toxic traits, especially when the person is able to maintain a facade of normalcy on their work or neighborhood relationships.  Sometimes, I have to coach clients to understand that it can be difficult persuading others as to how emotionally damaging these relationships are, especially when the narcissist is “high functioning,” or otherwise able to disguise their abusive behaviors from the rest of the world.  Living with someone with a toxic narcissistic personality disorder can be brutal, especially when the narcissist uses the relationship to emotionally abuse their partner, and tries to turn children, neighbors, and even family members against the otherwise healthy partner.

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Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
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Questions come up from time to time about how parents are treated in Parentage cases ( where the parents are unmarried) vs. in a divorce case. Should fathers for example, be treated differently in a child custody case if they are not married to the mother of the child or children?  The answer in Illinois, fortunately, is no.  The Illinois Parentage Act borrows and connects with the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) and utilizes in Parentage cases the same child custody statutes that are used in divorce cases.  These days, parents are no longer awarded “custody,” but are awarded “allocations of parenting time.”

In a New Jersey case, the Parentage courts were expected to decide child custody issues in a speedy fashion, and it seems that this expedited approach robbed some fathers of the right to have a full hearing over child custody issues. A recent case there made the news, as the appellate court decided that the rules for parentage cases should follow the same rules and due process afforded in a divorce case.  Here’s a summary of that case for those interested in the details:

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If the custody or parenting time of a minor child is at issue before a court, should the legal process differ depending on whether the parents of the child at issue were married?
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Dr. Michael Bone has a series of articles on Parental Alienation that are thoughtful and effective. One of the issues that he raised recently was the need for lawyers that represent targeted parents to “step up” and actually give voice (as I like to call it) to the reality that the other party is committing acts of PA, and making false allegations. In other words, it is not enough for a lawyer to simply defend a PA case.  In my view, the act of PA is child abuse, and if we look at PA from that angle, any parent that is committing a form of child abuse should be seen as an abuser, and the “target,”  as it were, needs to be painted on that offender’s back.  The Court needs to know that the alienating parent is guilty, culpable, and needs to be stopped and sanctioned by the Court.
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Here below is Dr. Bone’s view on this issue:
” Very often, the targeted parent will have been accused falsely of being in some way dangerous, unstable or otherwise suspect as a parent. Since the court should always carefully examine any potential danger that such a parent might represent, it should then also recognize that the fact remains that parents are falsely accused of tendencies and acts that are not them.
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