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arlington heights divorce lawyerAll across Illinois, more and more parents are choosing to homeschool their children. In Chicago alone, nearly 25,000 fewer children were enrolled in public schools in the past two years than in previous years. While it is hard to obtain data specifically for the entirety of Cook County, Illinois does not require homeschooling families to register with the authorities and so the rates of homeschooled children are estimated to likely be even higher than the numbers suggest. 

The question of whether or not to homeschool poses a potential dilemma for parents who are divorced. The choice to homeschool one’s children often has as much to do with closely-held beliefs around religion or cultural values as it does with fundamental questions about the competency of Illinois public schools. If parents disagree about homeschooling methods or the reasons for leaving the local public school, which parent gets to decide the best path for a child’s education? 

Homeschooling and Parental Responsibilities

When married parents get divorced or unmarried parents go to court to establish a parenting schedule, they must decide how to allocate the important decision-making authority known in Illinois as parental responsibilities. Education is a critical component of parental responsibilities, and when parents share decision-making authority about a child’s education, they may come into conflict around whether homeschooling is the best choice for the child. 

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cook county custody lawyerDeciding how to arrange a parenting time schedule is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult when both parents are extremely hostile toward each other or when a parent is poorly equipped to care for their child. Sometimes, the court cannot determine the most appropriate arrangement without the assistance of other professionals, such as guardian ad litem or custody evaluators.

What Does a Custody Evaluator Do? 

A custody evaluator is a trained professional who is usually a psychologist, psychiatrist, or attorney. Custody evaluators are different from child representatives because they do not legally represent the child or anyone else. A custody evaluator’s job is to work with the judge, the parents, the child, and any other relevant parties to objectively assess what would be in the best interests of the child. 

In order to do this, evaluators may employ a wide range of strategies. These include:

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IL divorce lawyerIn an Illinois divorce or divorce decree modification, courts are primarily concerned with discovering one thing: What is in the best interests of the child? A judge’s decision regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as “custody”) will take many factors into consideration.

Understanding the things judges look for in potential custodial parents can help increase your chances of being given those responsibilities and spending valuable time with your child. Here, we will explore some of those factors in detail:

  • The Ability and Willingness to Work with Your Co-Parent – Research shows that children do best when both parents are involved in their lives. However, if one parent is particularly combative, a judge may limit the child’s time with that parent in order to minimize the child’s exposure to conflict.
  • Involvement in Your Child’s Education – Even if your child spends the school week in their other parent’s home, you can still be involved in their education. Attend parent-teacher conferences, encourage academic success, and expose your child to educational opportunities.
  • Appropriate Boundaries – When you do not get to see your child every day, it can be tempting to make your visits based on fun and excitement rather than a responsible, parent-child relationship. Ensure your child eats wells, sleeps well, and spends their time well during their time with you. If your child reports that you spend your weekend visits together eating only fast food and playing video games this will not reflect very well on your parenting capabilities.
  • A Child-Friendly Home – Your child’s needs are different from your own. Everything, from age-appropriate dishes to clean clothes and bedding, should reflect the fact that a child lives with you. Making sure your child has what they need and knows where to find it will go a long way toward making them feel comfortable in your home.
  • Consistent Conduct – Children need consistency and predictability. If you are late, cancel last-minute, or are otherwise unreliable, your child could feel unimportant, abandoned, or as though they cannot trust you. Give your child the respect they deserve and keep your promises and commitments to them.

Speak with an Arlington Heights Family Law Attorney

Your relationship with your child is one of the most important things in your life. Having an experienced Cook County, IL divorce attorney on your side during your divorce will help you understand your options and advocate for your and your child’s interests. To learn more about what the family law attorneys with A. Traub & Associates can do for you, call us at 847-749-4182 today and make an appointment for a confidential consultation.

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IL family lawyerIt is every parent’s worst nightmare: The person you hoped would share your responsibility in caring and providing for your child may actually be abusing them. It is far easier to recognize and prevent abuse from strangers than from an ex-spouse who has custody of a child, but all the more important to do so because of the important role a parent plays in a child’s development. If you believe your former spouse is abusing or neglecting your child, there are steps you can take to protect your child and ensure the abuse does not carry forward into the future. The strategy you use will depend on your living situation, your custody rights, and how urgent the need is for intervention.

In an Emergency, Call the Police

If you suspect your child of being in imminent harm or subject to immediate physical abuse, call the police and report the situation immediately. Likewise, if you are the custodial parent of the child and your former spouse has just committed an act of domestic violence against you, call the police and file a report right away.

Request an Order of Protection

In Illinois, an order of protection can serve the purpose of removing a child from the custody of an abusive parent while requiring that same parent to stay away from you, your home, and your children. An order of protection can require that an abusive parent may not leave the state with a child or hide that child from you.

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IL family lawyerAlthough parents are typically understood as wanting the best for their children, individual interpretation of what is “best” varies, and parents often disagree. Unfortunately, sometimes parents are accused of being delinquent or neglectful in the care of their children. Illinois law provides a comprehensive listing of parental obligations in caring for children, setting the legal standard for what a child is able to expect of his or her custodial parents.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • A child’s immediate physical needs - This includes providing good nutrition, ensuring the child gets enough sleep, teaching and attending to the child’s hygiene, and caring for the child when he or she is ill or injured.
  • A child’s developmental needs - A child has many developmental milestones, and parents must be involved in helping their child achieve them. This includes things like learning to walk and other basic motor skill development, toilet training and table manners, and teaching the child to play well with others.
  • A child’s disciplinary needs - It is the responsibility of parents to help their children develop into functioning adults, and sometimes this requires discipline – within reason. This can include assigning and supervising chores, and ensuring children have the skills needed to behave with self-control and personal restraint.
  • A child’s social needs - Parents are also required to facilitate positive relationships with a child’s siblings, peers, extended family, and, unless there are extenuating circumstances, the other parent. Although Illinois law regarding parental alienation is complex, there can be serious consequences (beyond the negative impacts to the well-being of the child) when a parent attempts to alienate a child from his or her other parent.
  • A child’s educational needs - Parents must ensure a child attends school, including any remedial or extenuating special services that a child may need. Parents must also communicate with teachers and counselors, and supervise the child’s homework.
  • A child’s needs when the parent is not present - If a parent cannot be present with the child for any reason, it is their responsibility to secure an appropriate caregiver such as a babysitter or other family member.

Contact an Illinois Parenting Time Lawyer

It is normal for parents to have reasonable differences in their understanding and expectation of how each of these responsibilities should be carried out, and some compromise will be necessary. However, parents are always responsible under the law for ensuring the needs of a child are met.

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