630-462-9500

After Hour New Client Telephone Number 630-690-6077

1776 S. Naperville Road, Building B, Suite 202,
Wheaton, IL 60189
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

Parents ultimately get to decide who their child spends time with, but there are some situations in which children are wrongfully withheld from an extended family member. Sometimes, it is out of spite. Other times, it may be due to a particularly messy divorce, separation, or breakup between the parents. In either case, the child may suffer. Thankfully, certain nonparents can seek visitation rights. The following information can help you learn more about this process, including where and why you should seek quality assistance.

Who Can Request Visitation?

While visitation may be denied to a long list of extended family members, only certain ones have the right to seek visitation. These family members include the child's grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, or stepparents. If the grandparents or great-grandparents are on the father's side, paternity must be established before seeking visitation. If the mother and father were married at the time of the child's birth, paternity is already assumed.

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When making a determination for parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities, the courts generally consider the best interest of a child. However, there is often an extra element of concern when the determination involves a child with special needs. Much of this is due to the increased need for supervision, medical care, and educational provisions. How might these factors impact your case? More importantly, how can you ensure that your child's needs are met during the divorce proceedings? The following explores these questions and provides information on where to find qualified legal assistance with your case.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

The allocation of parental responsibilities is the power to make decisions about the child's daily life (i.e. where to receive medical care, education needs, religious affiliation, etc.). It is often assumed that the parent with more parenting time will receive more of the decision-making power, but this is not always true. The child's needs and family dynamics could lead to a nearly even split in the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as joint custody), or one parent may have more decision-making power than the other. That increased amount of decision-making power can go to either parent, regardless of the amount of awarded parenting time.

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After a divorce or separation, couples begin their own, unique journey. In many cases, the new path is a positive thing, but sometimes it can take a person further from the people they love most. If that person you are leaving is your child, but you must move to secure housing or employment, it can feel as though you are severing one limb to save another. In such situations, virtual visitation may be an option.

Using Virtual Visitation to Fill the Gap

Some parents live just an hour or two away from their children and can still visit their child on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Others live in completely different states or countries and might be lucky to see their child in person once or twice a year. Virtual visitation can fill the gap when in-person visits are not reasonable by giving children and parents a way to connect. True, it is not the same as an in-person visit, but it still fosters a healthy and consistent relationship between both parent and child. For the most favorable results, video camera visits - either through webcam or phone application - are recommended.

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Family violence and abuse are not a new issue in divorce cases. Many parents have had to fight to protect their children from a violent spouse. In contrast, parental alienation is a new concept in family court. However, some experts say the issue has been around as long as divorce (if not longer). Still, other psychologists believe parental alienation is nothing more than a clever defense for abusive parents - a way for them to control and punish an already beaten-down spouse. Sometimes, the latter is correct, but determining whether a case is a matter of family violence or parental alienation is rarely easy.

Parental Alienation as a Defense for Abuse

It is true that there are documented cases in which parental alienation was used as a defense strategy for an abusive parent. Retaliation and control are often the game, and the individuals who play it know how to win. They use every strategy possible. They hire bulldog attorneys that demonize an abuse victim. They propose family reunification camps that, to date, lack any evidence of efficacy. Some even issue threats to the child to encourage them to play along.

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When your relationship with an ex-spouse or ex-partner involves an element of abuse, it can be difficult to think of your child spending time with that person. However, a history of abuse may not cancel out the child's right to a relationship with their other parent. Understanding this, and dealing with it can be difficult, but there are things that you can do to put your own mind and heart at ease. Learn more about your options regarding possible parenting time restrictions when there is a history of abuse, including when and where to seek assistance.

Presenting Your Case

One of the biggest challenges in bringing forward a case of abuse to the courts is ensuring that you are not somehow deemed as a someone who is trying to interfere with the rights of the other parent. As such, it is so crucial that you approach abuse issues carefully. Documentation is helpful, but the most important step you can take is to talk to an attorney instead of trying to handle the issue alone. Doing so could also be highly beneficial if you believe you may still be in danger; not only can a family law attorney protect your rights and the best interests of your child, they can also help you pursue a restraining order against the abusive parent.

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