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DuPage County family law attorneysFor most divorcing parents, the primary concern is the safety and well-being of their child. The weight of that concern increases even further when there is a family history of domestic violence. Thankfully, there are preventative measures that parents can take to protect their child from abuse during and after a divorce. Learn how to utilize them through your Illinois parenting plan, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton divorce attorneys can assist with the process. 

Domestic Violence and the Propensity for Child Abuse 

Spousal abuse is not a definitive predictor for child abuse, as some abusers will harm their intimate partners but do not their children. Domestic violence within the home is considered a risk factor for child abuse, however, because it indicates that the abuser has a propensity for violence. Victims are encouraged to watch for potential signs of abuse in their child and to take preventative measures to protect their child from the possibility of violence or abuse. 

Recognizing the Signs of Child Abuse 

Victims of domestic violence tend to be astutely aware of the signs of physical abuse, such as unexplained (or poor explanations for the causes of) bruising, scrapes, and broken bones, they may be less likely to notice the subtler psychological signs. Often, this is because the victim is still healing and does not recognize the ways that abuse has changed their own personality. As a reference, consider these non-physical signs of abuse to determine if your child is being victimized by your spouse: 

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Illinois domestic violence lawyersDomestic violence impacts an estimated one in three women and one in four men experience intimate partner violence. Children are also impacted by domestic violence, regardless of whether they are abused themselves. Still, with one report of abuse being made every 10 seconds, their rate of abuse is just as concerning. 

A restraining order can provide all of these abuse victims with legal protections to keep them safe from their abuser. However, there are minimum requirements that must be met in order to obtain one.

The Legal Definition of Domestic Violence 

Not all hurtful actions are legally defined as domestic violence. Instead, the victim must have experienced:

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DuPage County DCFS hearing attorneys, child abuse, child neglectIt is every parent’s worst nightmare: you receive a knock on the door and the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) is there to investigate a call of child abuse and neglect. In order to protect children, DCFS takes reports of suspected child abuse and neglect very seriously and will investigate any credible reports. However, just because DCFS is called does not necessarily mean that there is abuse or neglect taking place. Still, it is their job to investigate credible reports. If you are accused of child abuse or neglect, you should contact a knowledgeable DCFS hearing attorney

Definition of Child Abuse

The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act defines child abuse as when a parent, immediate family member, anyone else residing in the house with the child, or any person who is responsible for the welfare of the child inflicts physical injury on a child or allows physical injury to be inflicted on a child. This injury must cause death, disfigurement, loss of a body part, impairment of a body part, or impairment of physical or emotional health. There is a specific exception in the statute for accidents. It is also child abuse to create a substantial risk of these kinds of injuries happening to a child. Child abuse also includes excessive corporal punishment.

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Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County child Custody attorneysIt is every parent’s worst nightmare: a knock on the door and an investigation by the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) accusing you of child abuse. Even parents that have nothing to hide and have not mistreated their children at all still fear that a wrongful allegation will have ongoing consequences. Hopefully, at the end of the day, the truth will win, but it is important to have some idea of the process to know what you are up against.

Someone Calls DCFS

The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services is the agency that is responsible for investigating claims of child abuse and neglect. DCFS has a hotline that anyone can call to report suspected abuse or neglect of children. There are also people called “mandated reporters”, such as doctors and teachers, that are required by law to inform DCFS if they have any suspicion of child abuse.

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DuPage County family lawyers, protective order basicsHuman relationships are complex. Unfortunately, these same relationships can become abusive. Abuse can become more intense if a couple decides to divorce or separate. When this happens, it can be difficult to know what to do in order to protect you and your family. This is particularly true when children are the victims of the abuse. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA) specifically forbids a family member or members of the same household from abusing others in their home.

The IDVA defines abuse as:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Harassment;
  • Intimidating a dependent; and/or
  • Willful deprivation.

You Can Take Action

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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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Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneys, DCFS case timelineThe Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) handles all cases involving allegations of child abuse or neglect in the home. Any person can report suspected abuse or neglect to the DCFS, and they have the right to investigate the case in addition to removing a child from a home. Every child protection case in the state follows the same timeline, so you can know what to expect as the case moves forward. 

Within 48 Hours of Removal 

On the first day of a child protection case, emergency removal is used to take the child from the home by DCFS for his or her safety. Excluding weekends and holidays, within 48 hours of the removal a temporary custody hearing is held. The court decides whether there is probable cause, urgent and immediate necessity, and in the best interests of the child to place him or her in the custody of DCFS. 

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DuPage County family law attorneys, misconduct during pregnancyIn our society, parental rights are fundamental rights, meaning they are the type of rights that are guaranteed to citizens of the United States by virtue of the Constitution. Because of this fact, to terminate parental rights, the government needs to prove that there has been some behavior or misconduct so bad that it causes harm or a threat of harm to the well-being of a child, and therefore the government has the right to intervene on the child(ren)’s behalf.

Misconduct, Neglect, and Abuse of Children

When we think about misconduct or behavior that is considered neglectful or abusive, generally we think about actions taken by parents to injure or hurt a child from infancy until the child is no longer a minor. However, Illinois law (among other jurisdictions in the United States) has found that misconduct while a fetus is still in utero may trigger termination of parental rights once the child has left the womb. Under our law, how can the government enforce the termination of parental rights for neonatal abuse?

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illinois order of protectionDomestic violence is a significant problem for many individuals, and a serious crime for offenders. It is defined as the hitting, choking, kicking, threatening, harassing, or interfering with the personal liberty of another by a family or household member. Victims of domestic violence can often secure an order of protection against the abuser as long as he or she fits into the class of persons defined as family or household members.

Order of Protection

Information on the Illinois Attorney General’s website provides that an order of protection is an order from the court that restricts an abuser from engaging in harmful acts towards their victim and is only available to household or family members. An order of protection can act in the following ways, including others:

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juvenile crime, juvenile sex offender, DuPage County family law, family lawyer, IllinoisMany people can undoubtedly relate to a situation in which they have made a poor decision as a juvenile. Though the activities associated with poor judgment as adolescents may vary in degree and seriousness, most individuals involved in such a situation usually see the error of their ways, learn, and move on. Others are not as lucky. In fact, some of those juveniles seem to deal with the consequences of a bad decision for the rest of their lives. One such situation involves juveniles who are required to register as sex offenders.

The Troubling Statistics

A study recently released by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission states that the requirement for juveniles to register as sex offenders interferes with the juvenile’s efforts at rehabilitation and punishes them for a crime that the majority never commit again. The Commission is recommending banning the practice of adding juveniles’ names to sex offender registries who are under the age of 17. Currently, all juveniles convicted of sex crimes are required to register, and 70 percent of them must do so for life.

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child abuse IMAGEChild abuse is a heinous and often hidden crime that is difficult to detect and, even when detected, it can be difficult to punish the perpetrators. Once child abuse is suspected, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”) has in place an extensive plan to investigate the allegations and concrete measures to take to further protect the child from harm.

Child Protection often begins with a simple call to the Child Abuse Hotline. A person speaks with a Child Protective Services (“CPS”) worker, who has special knowledge and training on the child abuse laws of the state. If, at the end of the call, the CPS worker determines a formal report needs to be written, a CPS worker will begin a formal investigation. The mandate requires that the investigation begin within 24 hours of the written report.

 Once a formal investigation commences, a CPS worker will investigate the allegations, and the child’s immediate needs will be assessed to determine if there is imminent harm to the child. If that is the case, emergency services, such as protective custody, may be implemented right away. The CPS worker will also have influence on the overall determination of what long-term care the child will need once the investigation ends. One major impediment to the process is that of detection. Signs of child abuse can be subtle, or the perpetrator may be taking great lengths to hide the abuse. In some cases, a parent may be in denial or turning a blind eye if outright physical signs are not present. Because of this, the number of people calling into a Child Abuse Hotline may only comprise a small portion of child abuse cases occurring at home. Therefore, additional measures must be put in place to help DCFS detect child abuse as early as possible.

Medical Intervention

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Posted on in Child Custody

Crying Toddler With Arm In CastIn Illinois, there has been an increase in the number of children who die due to abuse and neglect. For the fiscal year ending in June of 2013, the number of children who passed away from abuse and neglect was the highest it has been in 30 years.  The saddest news about this total is that some of these deaths may have been avoided. An Illinois Senate subcommittee has been questioning state officials from the Department of Child and Family Services about this steep increase.  Acting director of the DCFS, Denise Gonzales, admitted that over 100 children died due to mistreatment and ten more cases are still pending.  The average per year total has been around 75 for the last 30 years. About 75 percent of the deaths were caused by accidental suffocation from infants sleeping with blankets, or with their parents or on their stomachs. In the past these types of cases were only classified as neglect if the parents were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Now children who suffocate while sleeping are categorized as neglect cases if it can be proven that the parents knew about the dangers of letting children sleep on their stomachs or with blankets and other items. But it was also found that the DCFS in Illinois has been suffering from a larger caseload with a smaller staff.  Although a senator asked for the resignation of Gonzales, that might not happen.  Gonzales took over when the previous head of the DCFS resigned due to a terminal cancer diagnosis.  Gonzales is still dedicated to making the DCFS better by reducing caseloads, leaning out middle management and improving the hotline for reporting child neglect. The DCFS will continue to receive tips about possible abuse and neglect that is occurring in Illinois.  If you are summoned to juvenile court by the DCFS then it is important to be prepared.  The consequences may be losing care of your children or being placed under court supervision.  Contact a skilled family law attorney in Warrenville today to review your case.

illinois-domestic-violenceMany people like to believe that if someone close to them like a family member is being abused, they will know and can help, but that is not always the case. The comforts about domestic violence that we often tell ourselves are infrequently true. DomesticViolence.org explains the faults in many of these myths and family law tips as follows: 1. If the abuse is really bad, the victim would leave. Leaving an abuser physically or emotionally will not stop him from going after his victim. Trying to get away could also anger the abuser and worsen the abuse. According to the United States Department of Justice, the most dangerous time for a victim is when she tries to leave. 2. There is no domestic violence in my community. In one year alone, the state police of Michigan concluded that a woman was killed about once a week by a partner or former partner. 3. Only women of color and poor women are victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence has no filter. Victims range in age, religion, culture, class, marital status, sexual orientation, and gender. Although it is less frequent, men are victims of domestic violence too, along with white and rich women. 4. Domestic violence is caused by mental illness, drug abuse, alcohol, and stress. Mental illness and drug abuse are often used as excuses rather than being actual causes of domestic violence. 5. What happens between a husband and wife is a private and personal matter. Domestic violence commonly affects more than just the abuser and the first partner/victim. The American Psychological Association reported that 40 percent to 60 percent of men who abuse women also abuse children. Sometimes the abuse becomes more serious and the victim is killed through the abuse, 30 percent of female murder victims in 1996 were killed by husbands and boyfriends according to the FBI. This abuse happens all around us without anyone knowing until it is much too late for the victims. If you are a victim of domestic abuse or you know a victim, contact a family law attorney for assistance to get safely out of the relationship. Illinois family lawyers at the Davi Law Group can help a victim file charges against his or her abuser and safely stay away for good. We have locations in Warrenville and Wheaton, Illinois.

Recently, after pleading guilty to sexually abusing a relative, a Quincy man was sentenced to 18 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Guilty pleas of two counts of criminal sexual assault of a family member under the age of 18 were entered by Kevin G. Johnston, 32, that is a Class 1 felony. Johnston was sentenced to nine years in the DOC on each count with the sentences to run consecutively by Judge Scott Walden. Once Johnston has served his jail time, he will continue to be on mandatory supervised release for a minimum of three years. If the probation department finds it necessary to continue to monitor Johnston, it is possible that he will be on mandatory supervised release for the rest of his life. As part of the plea agreement, Johnston had two charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, a Class 1 felony, dismissed. Gary Farha, the First Assistant State’s Attorney, shared that Johnston took a family member on Sept. 24 to a Quincy motel. Farha said, “(Johnson) had (the relative) smoke a white substance from a pipe.” Johnston had anal sex with the relative and also forced the relative to perform oral sex on him, according to Farha. “He knew he was planning on having some form of sex with (the relative) when he went to the hotel,” said Farha. In addition, Farha said that the white substance that the white substance the Johnston had forced the relative to smoke from a pipe was crack cocaine. Chief Public Defender and Johnston’s lawyer Holly Henze shared that Johnston has a drug problem. “He was on a cocaine binge for several days before the incident,” said Henze. Johnston took full responsibility for his actions, although the family member was not present for the sentencing nor to read an impact statement. “I deserve my sentence. I deserve to have to register (as a sex offender) and be in the system,” said Johnston. He also added, “That is not who I was, that is not who I am. That is not who I am going to be.” Walden accepted the negotiated plea and ordered Johnston to undergo sex offender and substance abuse counseling during his time in prison. If your family is having troubles, contact a family law attorney today. The Davi Law Group can help you settle any family issues that may have arisen, contact these experienced family law attorneys in Warrenville and Wheaton, Ill.
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