Child custody laws in Illinois are rarely general guidelines. Rather, child custody orders issued by the courts must be strictly followed. Violations of child custody orders can result in stiff punishments. Here’s how to respond when an ex fails to abide by custody orders.
When a marriage ends, the divorcing parents will be given a custody order as a part of their case. An Illinois judge must have jurisdiction over the case prior to issuing the custody order. Jurisdiction simply means the judge has the legal right to issue the custody order.
What is the importance of jurisdiction?
Jurisdiction is critical in instances where both parents live in different states, or the other parent moves out of state. A law called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) establishes the rules regarding which states have jurisdiction.
When it comes to custody matters, the UCCJEA is the guiding force that determines the child’s home state. Only courts in the home state have jurisdiction over the custody battle. Plus, only the courts in the home state are allowed to hear the child custody case.
Illinois courts have the jurisdiction to hear a child custody case if the child has lived in the state for the last six months or if the child lives out of state but has lived here the last six months (with one parent living in Illinois).
What does a custody order involve?
The judge will issue a custody order based on the best interests of the child rather than the suitability of either parent. Factors the judge will consider include the parent’s and child’s wishes, the child’s adjustment to a new home, school or community and the health of all parties involved.
Once the parents receive a custody order, it must be followed by both ex-spouses. For example, a judge may have ordered parenting time on the first three days of the week. The parent must allow the other parent to pick up the child during those designated days.
If the parent refuses to allow the other parent to exercise his or her parental responsibilities, a judge can enforce the existing custody order. Violating any provisions in a child custody order or failing to follow the custody schedule can result in being held in contempt of court.
What are steps to take when custody orders are disobeyed?
1. Utilize Mediation
Before going to court, the exes are encouraged to try to work out child custody issues through discussions or mediation. Divorce mediation is an option when talking to the other parent is not possible. The Mediation Council of Illinois is a resource for private mediators.
2. Consider Family Court
When mediation fails to yield satisfactory results, a better resolution may be possible in family court. It’s important for parents to know that violations of custody orders or visitation interferences can be tried as both a criminal and civil offense.
Under current Illinois laws, the first two violations of custody orders are considered petty offenses. When the offending ex repeatedly violates custody orders, it becomes a Class A Misdemeanor. Serious offenses can potentially lead to prison sentences or hefty fines.
Taking the case to civil court can result in the judge adjusting the parenting schedule or allowing a parent to make up the time originally awarded. If the offense is serious, a judge can impose fines or jail time. The courts expedite enforcement of child custody orders.
3. Gather Evidence
Prior to heading to court to enforce custody orders, the parent denied his or her parental responsibilities must prove that the offending ex intentionally violated the orders. Documentation and records are useful and will help an attorney present a strong case.
In addition to gathering evidence, the offended party must obtain a copy of the parental responsibilities court order, a Petition for Rule to Show Case and a Notice of Motion. The petition must include the nature of the violation (including dates) and what the parent is asking for.
4. File Documents
These documents must be filed with the circuit clerk. Electronically filing the paperwork is accepted unless the parent has an exemption. The offending parent must also receive a copy of the documentation, which may be sent via an E-Service System or registered mail.
5. Present the Case
The offended party will have a chance to present his or her case in court. The judge will hear both sides from the exes. After the two parents have spoken, the judge will arrive at a decision. A final resolution may be possible only after several court dates.
If the judge believes the offending parent disobeyed the custody order without good reason, the parent will be held in contempt of court. If the evidence presented is insufficient and the judge does not believe the offending parent disobeyed the order, the case will be dismissed.
Work with a Child Custody Attorney
When your ex fails to follow custody orders, an experienced lawyer can take your case to court and ensure that the orders are legally enforced. Allen Gabe Law, P.C., is a firm of skilled family law attorneys who are ready to assist you through a range of child custody disputes.
Our firm of knowledgeable child custody lawyers stay up to date on the changing laws that affect divorced parents. We closely investigate each case and thoroughly research the details to present a compelling case in court. The timely resolution of each case is important to our clients and us.
Child custody battles can be a complex route to navigate alone. When you have the legal team from Allen Gabe Law, P.C., on your side, you can expect a favorable outcome for you and your child. We have the experience of providing expert legal guidance to mothers and fathers alike.
If you are expecting an uphill court battle involving child custody issues, consult the child custody lawyers at Allen Gabe Law, P.C. You will receive legal support to help you make the right decisions throughout the custody battle. We provide legal counsel to parents living in Schaumburg, Illinois.
For more information regarding how we can help you with your child custody case, please give us a call at (847) 241-5000, ext. 121 or fill out a contact form.