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Untitled-49.jpgParental alienation describes a situation in which a parent attempts to manipulate or influence a child to view the other parent negatively or take sides in disputes between parents. These actions can take place during a bitter divorce or child custody battle. This behavior can have a detrimental impact on a child’s relationship with both of their parents and their overall well-being. In fact, parental alienation can be so detrimental to a child that it is considered child abuse in some cases. A parent will need to understand how they can address this type of behavior by an ex-spouse or ex-partner, and they may need to take legal action to ensure that their child’s best interests will be protected.

What Exactly Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation can take many forms, including speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the child, limiting contact or visitation with the other parent, or falsely claiming that the parent has engaged in abuse or neglect of the child. The purpose of parental alienation is to create a sense of loyalty or alliance with the alienating parent and damage the other parent’s relationship with the child. A parent may purposely engage in alienation in hopes of influencing decisions about child custody, or they may act in ways that harm the child’s relationship with the other parent, such as by blaming them for the couple’s divorce, complaining about their behavior, or undermining their authority when addressing child-related issues. 

How Parental Alienation Can Affect Children

Parental alienation can have a profound and long-lasting impact on a child. When subjected to relentless negative comments about the other parent or other behaviors that cause them to unfairly favor one parent over the other, children may develop a distorted view of reality. This can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and confusion, as well as a damaged sense of self-worth. Children who are unable to have positive relationships with both parents will often suffer emotionally, and they may encounter struggles in their home lives, their relationships with friends and family members, and their education.


Untitled-24.jpgWhen it comes to divorce and child custody cases, one of the most common questions that parents have is who will be responsible for paying child support. In Illinois, child support is calculated based on a number of factors, including the incomes of both parents and, in some cases, the amount of parenting time that each parent will have with their children. In cases involving "50/50" custody where children will spend equal or near-equal amounts of time with each parent, uncertainties may arise about who will be responsible for paying child support and how various child-related expenses will be shared by the parents. By understanding how Illinois law addresses these "shared parenting" situations, parents can make sure they will be able to address these financial issues correctly.

Child Support in Cases Involving Shared Physical Care

Illinois courts consider the incomes of both parents when calculating child support payments. Both parents are expected to provide for their children's financial needs, and a variety of different expenses may need to be addressed. In cases where children spend the majority of their time living with one parent, that parent will typically be able to receive ongoing child support payments, and the other parent will have the obligation to provide financial support for the children. However, determining how child support will be handled in cases involving equal custody will often be more complex.

Illinois law provides guidelines for calculating child support in cases involving "shared physical care," in which children will live with each parent for 40 percent of the time or more. That is, if children spend the night in each parent's home 146 or more days every year, this is considered shared physical care. In these cases, child support will be determined using the following steps:


dupage county child custody lawyerParents may become involved in child custody disputes during a divorce or the breakup of an unmarried couple. In these situations, making decisions about how parents will share legal custody and divide parenting time can be difficult. When addressing these issues, it is important to understand how the laws in Illinois may affect a case. Even if a couple plans to negotiate a parenting agreement rather than resolving disputes in the courtroom, knowing how the law addresses their situation can help them make the right decisions. One issue that may play a role in these matters is the way parents have handled and expect to continue handling “caretaking functions” for their children.

What Are Caretaking Functions?

Parents will engage in a number of activities as they provide care for their children, ensure that children’s needs are met, and help children grow and develop successfully. Illinois law details a number of these caretaking functions, and it states that parents are responsible for engaging in these functions during their parenting time. When determining how to allocate parenting time between parents, one factor that may be considered is how each parent has been involved in caretaking functions for their children during the two years immediately preceding the initiation of a divorce or child custody case.

Caretaking functions include:


child custody lawyer in skokieThere are a multitude of different issues that will be addressed during a couple’s divorce, and at the end of the legal process, a divorce decree or judgment will be issued. This final order is meant to remain in place indefinitely, and it will address how certain issues will be handled going forward. For couples who have children, their divorce decree will include a child custody order, which is sometimes referred to as a parenting plan. There are some cases where these orders may no longer adequately address a family’s needs, and based on changes that have occurred, either parent may request modifications of their parenting plan. By understanding the requirements they will need to meet for modifications to be granted, parents can make sure they approach these cases correctly.

Post-Divorce Child Custody Modifications

Generally, modifications to the allocation of parental responsibilities (also known as legal custody) may not be made within the first two years after a couple’s divorce, unless there is reason to believe that issues have arisen that may affect a child’s physical or emotional health, such as abuse against a child by a parent or another person in their household. Modifications to parenting time or physical custody may be made at any time if the court determines that they are necessary. Parents may also agree to make modifications to legal or physical custody at any time, and these modifications will generally be allowed, unless the court determines that they are not in the children’s best interests.

In most cases, a parent who requests a modification will need to show that there has been a significant change in the circumstances of themselves, the other parent, or the couple’s children. Some valid reasons for modifications may include:


dupage county divorce lawyerDuring a divorce, matters related to a couple’s children can often be some of the most complex and difficult issues to resolve. Disagreements about raising children can be a significant factor that leads to the breakdown of a marriage, and these arguments may continue throughout the divorce process as parents determine how they will share parental responsibilities going forward. How parents cared for their children, made decisions, and handled family responsibilities during their marriage may be a significant factor in child custody cases. Some parents may believe that the ways they acted while married should determine the role that they will play in their children’s lives following their divorce, while others may feel that it is best to leave the past in the past and find new solutions as they move forward. When parents encounter disputes about issues related to the custody of their children, they will need to understand how the law may address their previous actions and behaviors.

Factors Considered When Determining Children’s Best Interests

While each parent may have an idea of how they would like child-related issues to be handled following the end of their marriage, the wishes of the parents are not the most important concern in these cases. Instead, family courts will focus on finding solutions that will provide for children’s best interests. Decisions about child custody will be made based on what will allow children to thrive, avoid disruptions to their lives, receive the proper care and education, and maintain positive relationships with both parents.

Child custody cases generally address two types of custody, commonly known as legal custody and physical custody. In Illinois, these are referred to as the allocation of decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. Decision-making responsibilities include the rights and obligations of each parent to determine how important issues related to their children will be handled, including the medical and personal care children will receive, their schooling and education, their religious activities and practices, and extracurricular activities children will participate in. Parenting time, which is sometimes referred to as visitation, is the time children will be in the care of each parent. A schedule will be created detailing when children will stay in parents’ homes or visit them in other locations, including on regular weekdays and weekends and on holidays, school vacation days, and other important dates.

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