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Wheaton family law attorneysWhile many parents are able to complete their divorce with little to no fanfare, there are situations in which the best interest of the child comes into question. In these difficult and often heartbreaking cases, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) may be assigned. Learn more about what an assignment of this court liaison may mean for your Illinois child custody case, and discover what our seasoned Wheaton divorce attorneys can do to help with the situation. 

Understanding the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

Either parent can request that a Guardian Ad Litem be assigned to their case. Alternatively, a judge may assign one, if they feel that the aid of one is warranted. Considered a liaison for the court, they serve as an advocate for the child. They may visit them at school, or at home. They may also meet privately with each of the parents, the school, and persons of interest to the child or family (i.e. stepparents, grandparents, etc.). Requests for a list of witnesses may also be made. 

The goal here is to understand the child’s current situation, and then reach a decision regarding what may be best for their future. Considerations can include where the child will live, and the amount of time they might spend with each parent. It is important to note that the Guardian Ad Litem is not the child’s attorney, so while they may allow the child to voice their preferences and desires, they are not obligated to follow the child’s wishes when making their determination.

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DuPage County child advocacy lawyersWhile a Guardian Ad Litem may not be necessary in every divorce case, they are sometimes needed to ensure that the best interests of children are preserved during proceedings. Should you request one, and how do you deal with it if your spouse or the courts have brought on into your Illinois divorce case? The following information explains, and it provides information on how a seasoned divorce lawyer can assist with the process.

What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

Guardian Ad Litems are court-appointed unbiased third parties that look out for children in legal proceedings, such as divorce. They do not take sides. Instead, they interview all involved parties along with other individuals in the child’s life (i.e. teachers, grandparents, etc.). They then make a recommendation to the court, based on the evidence they have found. Mostly, they are looking for signs of abuse or neglect that could potentially endanger the child, and they make recommendations to protect the child from such issues.

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DuPage County family law attorneysTerminating a parent’s rights to their child is not something that occurs regularly, but it is sometimes necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. How, exactly, does one go about doing this? Can it be applied in all situations, or are there only certain scenarios in which a parent’s rights can be terminated? The following answers these questions, and it provides important details on how an experienced family law attorney can assist you with the process, should it be warranted in your case.

Terminating a Parent’s Rights for Stepparent Adoption

Perhaps the best scenario in which a parent’s rights may be terminated is when there is a prospective adopting stepparent who wants to become the child’s legal guardian. Mostly, this is done with the consent of the biological parent. However, there are scenarios in which the family must go through the courts to prove that the biological parent is unfit, unsafe, or otherwise incapable of providing the love and support that the child deserves. In either scenario, the guidance and assistance of an experienced attorney is highly recommended. Note that grandparents, siblings, and other family members may adopt a child if both parents are willing to terminate their parental rights.

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DuPage County family law attorneysDivorce, in and of itself, is a complex legal process. Abuse, particularly the abuse of a shared child, can complicate matters even further. Thankfully, there are actions that you can take protect your child during the divorce process. Learn more, including what an experienced divorce attorney can do for you, with help from the following information.

Focus on Safety First

If you and your child are in an abusive situation, find a place where you can be safe. Family, friends, and even domestic violence shelters are examples of viable emergency options. It is also advised that you develop a safety plan and that you seek assistance with a restraining order. Both can provide additional protection while you are going through the divorce process.

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DuPage County child visitation attorneys, domestic violence, child visitationMaking decisions about child custody during a divorce can be difficult. Making these decisions is even more complex when domestic violence is involved. While an abusive relationship may be limited to the relationship between two adults, there is no way to know the effect domestic violence may have on your child.

As you begin to separate from an abusive spouse you may wonder how to limit the impact of abuse on your children. It is important that you understand how the court may address the abuse issue when making decisions regarding child visitation

Will My Abusive Spouse be Given Visitation?

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DuPage County family law attorney, children and family servicesWhen the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services knocks on your door, you should take the process seriously, whether or not you believe they have a right to take action against you or not.

In Illinois, DCFS is responsible for the protection of children across the state. Therefore, they have the authority to thoroughly investigate anyone suspected of abusing or neglecting children. Child abuse, as broadly defined by Illinois law, is the mistreatment of a child under the age of majority, which is 18, by a parent, intimate partner, immediate relative, roommate (even if unrelated), caretakers (babysitters, daycare workers), educators, coaches, and even youth volunteers.

Understanding Child Abuse or Neglect

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DuPage County family law attorney, domestic violenceThe determination of child custody can be a very difficult topic in both separations and divorces. However, the issue becomes more complicated when domestic violence has occurred in the household. When an order of protection is entered in a case, it severely impacts the rights of one parent. 

In order to obtain an order of protection in DuPage County, as in most other counties across Illinois, a few factors must be present. First, there needs to be some domestic relationship between you and the person you are seeking the order of protection against.  Second, there must be a history of abuse. Lastly, you need to be a resident of DuPage County in order to get an order of protection against the abuser.

If your husband, boyfriend, or family member abused you or your child, you should contact an experienced domestic violence attorney who will assist you obtaining an order of protection to ensure you and your family can live safely without the threat of violence. 

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