The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

Yorkville Office By Appointment

Initial Consultations via ZOOM Available

aurora divorce lawyerUnder Illinois law, divorcing or separating parents of minor children are mandated to complete a court-approved parent education class. Even if the divorce is uncontested, parents are required to pay for and finish a parenting course. Sometimes parenting classes are court-ordered for parents accused of child abuse or neglect. These courses teach parents how to cope with frustrations, providing them with essential techniques to care for their children safely.  

What is a Parenting Class?

Parenting classes are educational courses intended to enhance family dynamics by promoting a positive and nurturing relationship between the divorcing or separating parents and the child. The many benefits of parenting classes include but are not limited to the following:

  • Teaches parents vital skills to help with the child’s transition from traveling between a two-parent household to a single-parent one

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kane county divorce lawyerChild custody battles can be contentious, acrimonious, traumatic, and costly. A reliable child custody attorney can help with dispute resolution to facilitate an amicable outcome. However, when dispute resolution, like mediation, fails, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL), a child representative, or a custody evaluator to help determine what is in the child's best interests. These investigations can be intrusive, nerve-racking, and embarrassing, making some feel unfairly judged. A child custody attorney skilled in collaborative law can also help you prepare for the evaluations of court-appointed, third-party investigators. 

What is a Guardian Ad Litem, a Child Representative, and a Custody Evaluator?

Guardian ad litem (GAL) -- GALs, who are certified and trained through the Department of Children and Family Services, advocate and protect a child's best interest during custody battles. Working on behalf of a child, a GAL is typically court-appointed and can serve as a witness. After a thorough investigation, GALs provide recommendations to the judge. A GAL's fees are billed to the child's parents or guardians.

Child representative – As an attorney for the child and trained in child advocacy, a child representative is bound by attorney-client privilege and cannot be called as a witness. A child representative, like a GAL, advocates for the best interest of the child and serves as the child’s voice. After evaluating the case and interviewing the child, a child representative can file motions regarding parental responsibilities. The child’s parents or guardians also pay the child representative's legal fees.

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aurora child custody lawyerAccording to the Illinois Department of Child & Family Services, nearly 70 percent of child abuse is not reported to authorities. Typically, a child informs seven adults of their abuse or neglect before it is reported to the authorities. Any delay in reporting can intensify the severity of the abuse and embolden the offender to abuse more children. The Children's Advocacy Centers of Illinois (CACI) asserts each day, there are 222 reports of abuse, and one in ten children are sexually abused before reaching 18 years of age. Illinois law defines four types of child abuse: emotional, physical, sexual, and neglect.  

 For most, child abuse engenders reactions of visceral disgust and outrage, especially as children are the most vulnerable in society. Child abuse can be perpetrated by an ex-spouse, the ex-spouse's new partner, or even the child's step-sibling. A divorce attorney can help a concerned parent who suspects their child is suffering abuse to present their case to the court, modify the parenting plan, and petition for an order of protection. 

Illinois Law’s Definition of Child Abuse

Child emotional abuse – This type of abuse from offending parents or guardians is typically chronic. The abused child is endangered with impairment or risk of impairment to their emotional well-being. Abusive behaviors include but are not limited to rejection, isolation, terrorizing, ignoring, corrupting, and verbal abuses. Emotional child abusers are also sometimes known to place unrealistic pressures on the child.

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Batavia Parenting Time AttorneyWhether you are an unmarried parent or currently going through a divorce, child custody matters are never easy. Parents can disagree about what is best for their children, and these disagreements sometimes escalate into full-blown child custody disputes. If you are currently involved in a child custody case, there is no way to completely eliminate conflict. However, there are some things you can do to promote cooperation and civility.

Tips for Reducing Conflict and Encouraging Cooperation in Your Custody Dispute

First, remember that your children come first. It is important to put their needs above your own and to try to make decisions that are in their best interests. Of course, this is often easier said than done. Parents sometimes get so caught up in their own emotions that they forget what is best for their children. If you find yourself in this situation, take a step back and try to remember why you are doing this in the first place.

Second, be willing to compromise. It may be best to work with your attorney and decide which issues you are and are not willing to compromise on. For example, you may insist that your child stays in a certain school district but would be willing to negotiate the specifics of the parenting time schedule.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1926120011.jpgWhen getting a divorce, a very important situation to figure out is determining who will have custody of the children. Whether full custody is granted to one parent or a shared child custody arrangement is put into place amongst co-parenting adults, the ultimate decision can yield quite the grueling process. The topics of child custody and visitation become even more complex when step-parents are interested in pursuing legal access to the children as well. 

Who is Legally Defined as a Step-Parent in Illinois? 

In Illinois, the law specifies that a step-parent is an individual who is legally married to one of the parents of the child in question. While someone may consider his- or herself a parental figure to a child, if he or she is dating the child's parent, as opposed to being officially married to them in the eyes of the law, then Illinois does not recognize said individual as a step-parent. Without an official marriage license, the partner of a child's parent cannot be considered a step-parent. 

Do Step-Parents Have Visitation Rights in Illinois?

Step-parents have visitation rights in Illinois under certain conditions. A step-parent may petition for visitation rights to a child if the parent of the child has denied the step-parent any access to, communication with, or visitation with the child. 

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The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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