Whether you’re embroiled in a difficult divorce or dealing with a paternity case, emotions run high as the proceedings pertain to custody and visitation for a minor child. Though the applicable Illinois statute now uses the terms “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time,” many of the same underlying concepts will be familiar. Unfortunately, that also means many of the same heated disputes can arise. These disagreements may lead one party to accuse the other of parental alienation, an allegation that courts treat very seriously.
 
Claims of parental alienation carry significant implications and risks for a parent on either side of the accusations. A Chicago child custody attorney will protect your rights, but a summary of some basic concepts may be informative.
 
Overview of Parental Alienation: When a court determines allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time for a minor child, the law requires the judge to make the decision according to the child’s best interests. There are 17 factors listed in the statute, focusing on such issues as:
 

  • The parent-child relationship;
  • The health of each parent and the child;
  • Prior agreements regarding custody and visitation;
  • Relationships with other members of each household; and,
  • Many others.

 
In addition, the presence or threat of violence or abuse is also a key factor in determining custody and visitation. The court would never put a child at risk of harm, so allegations of misconduct – i.e., parental alienation – will be a focus when making the decision. The issue will also be important if a parent is requesting to modify a previously entered order on the subject.
 
Implications for the Alienated Parent: Once a claim of parental alienation is made, it’s likely the court will conduct an investigation through a custody evaluator (often a medical doctor or therapist) and/or a guardian ad litem or child’s representative that investigates the situation and advocates for the child’s best interests. During the investigation, the judge may:
 

  • Make changes to the existing arrangement regarding allocation of parental responsibilities;
  • Require supervised visitation;
  • Restrict communications between the child and accused parent; and,
  • Require the accused parent to participate in the investigation.

 
Unfounded Claims of Parental Alienation: When parents are fighting, they may resort to extreme tactics to paint a poor picture of the other and gain an advantage in court. Unfounded, dishonest, or outright false accusations of parental alienation or abuse do occur. If you’re the parent in this position – and even if there’s some truth to the allegations – you still have rights. Legal representation is critical to maintaining or restoring them.
 
Contact an Experienced Chicago Child Custody Lawyer Today
 
When you’re dealing with a situation of parental alienation, there’s no doubt it’s important to work with an attorney that understands the importance of the child’s best interest’s standard. However, it’s also essential to retain legal counsel that will defend your interests if you’re accused and being investigated for misconduct. To learn more about your rights and the risks of parental alienation, please contact Michael C. Craven today. You can schedule a consultation at our Chicago office by calling (312) 621-5234 or checking out our website.