Three Common Mistakes Parents Make Before a Custody Battle
By: M. Scott Gordon
If you are considering divorce in the Chicago area and have minor children from your marriage, you should be prepared for the complicated—and potentially contentious—child custody process. Under Illinois law, child custody is discussed in terms of “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” While these changes to the law were designed in part to make the child custody process more flexible and to highlight the importance of the parent-child relationship, custody cases can still be vexed. It is important parents avoid mistakes that could end up hurting their case.
While Illinois law allows parents to work together to develop a parenting plan in which they allocate parental responsibilities, many parents simply cannot cooperate with one another. In these contentious cases where the court allocates parental responsibilities in an allocation judgment, it is important to avoid common mistakes. The following are examples of errors that could affect how the court makes its allocation judgment.
1. Badmouthing the Other Parent
When the court allocates parental responsibilities, it does so in a manner that is in the best interest of the child or children. Under the statute, one of the factors the court considers when determining what is in the best interests of the child is the ability of each parent to facilitate a close relationship between the other parent and the child.
If you consistently badmouth the other parent, the court may decide you have acted in a way that demonstrates an unwillingness to encourage a close relationship between your child and the other parent and it could affect how the court allocates decision-making responsibilities.
2. Refusing to Work with the Other Parent in Any Capacity
While Illinois courts do not expect divorcing parents will get along perfectly with one another, there is a need for parents to be able to work together to uphold the allocation judgment issued by the court. When the court decides how to allocate significant decision-making responsibilities, one of the statutory factors it considers is “the ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making.”
If you refuse to work with the other parent, the court could determine it is not in the best interests of the child for you to share significant decision-making responsibilities.
3. Avoiding Parental Responsibilities Until the Allocation Judgment
When the court allocates parental responsibilities, the statute says it can consider “the level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child” when it comes to significant decision-making responsibilities.
In addition, in allocating parenting time, the court can consider the time each parent spent performing caretaking functions with respect to the child in the two years before the filing of any petition for allocation of parental responsibilities.
In other words, even if you are frustrated with the other parent, it is important to uphold your parental responsibilities in order to show the court you should share in both significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time.
Seek Advice from a Child Custody Attorney in Chicago
When you are anticipating a difficult child custody case, you should always seek advice from an experienced Chicago child custody lawyer. An advocate at M. Scott Gordon & Associates can provide you with more information about the allocation of parental responsibilities and can get started on your case today. Contact us to learn more.