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


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Child Abuse and Custody Disputes in DuPage County Divorce Cases

Posted on September 22, 2022 in Child Custody

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.

Child physical abuse – The violence endured by physically abused children can be both obvious and obscure. Physical signs can include bruising, lacerations, bite marks, burns, internal injuries, head injuries, fractures, and broken bones. Behavioral signs of physical abuse can consist of violence toward children and animals, distrust of adults, and acting with aggression or withdrawal.

Child sexual abuse – Any sexual activity with a child can include rape, incest, voyeurism, and more, and can cause physical and long-term psychological problems. Like child physical abuse, indicators of child sexual abuse can be both physical and behavioral. Physical injuries can include pain or bleeding in the genital or anal areas, recurrent bladder infections, or sexually transmitted diseases. Behavioral indicators include nightmares, bedwetting, self-destructive behavior, failing grades, behaving aggressively, or withdrawing from family and friends.

Neglect – According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, neglect accounts for 75 percent of corroborated cases of child abuse. Neglect involves a parent or guardian failing to provide the child with basic needs, such as food, proper clothing, safe shelter, medical care, and supervision. A report by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University concludes that neglect negatively affects children’s health, physical, intellectual, cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, and behavioral developments. Furthermore, malnourishment and lack of proper medical care can lead to death.

How to Proceed

After contacting the authorities, a parent who suspects their child is being abused or neglected by their former spouse or partner or someone in their former spouse or partner’s household can petition for an order of protection. The concerned parent can also request a modification to the parenting plan, specifically parenting time (formerly visitation). 

Orders of protection -- These legally-binding injunctions are intended to protect a child and their parent or guardian from the offender committing domestic violence. Either the parent or guardian can petition on behalf of the child. The three types of orders of protection include: 

  • Emergency orders of protection (EOP) last up to 21 days.

  • Interim orders of protection last up to 30 days.

  • Plenary orders of protection last up to two years.

Modification – When child abuse is suspected or proven, the parenting plan, including parenting time, can be modified to keep the child safe and away from the abusive spouse. A family law attorney can help you present your suspicions or evidence to the court. The attorney could also request the offending spouse to be investigated by authorities or to receive counseling. The court always upholds the best interest of the child. Even if only alleged, protecting the child from harm merits a substantial change in circumstances for the court to grant the modification. 

Contact a Family Law Attorney in DuPage County

At The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., trustworthy divorce attorney Matthew M. Williams skillfully advocates for constructive and positive solutions. Matthew M. Williams, a results-oriented lawyer, is certified in both collaborative and cooperative law. He is passionate about the well-being of children and understands the gravity of child abuse. If you suspect your child is being abused by your ex-spouse or someone residing in your ex-spouse’s household, contact a Wheaton family law attorney at 630-409-8184. 


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


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

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