Lake Forest Child Custody Lawyer
With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our team is highly qualified to provide legal services for your most difficult family circumstances.
Lake Forest Child Custody Attorney
The Lake Forest child custody lawyers at DeArmey Law recognize how important it is for you to stay a part of your child’s life, regardless of your relationship with their other parent. With decades of experience in family law, we can help you avoid any missteps that would negatively impact your child custody case. This can ultimately secure the most favorable outcome for your child.
Parenting plans are documents that clearly state how separated parents will share their parenting rights and responsibilities. They are intended to be made in the ideal interests of the children. They will contain information like how to care for minor children, where they will live, and when they should see each parent. Child custody and parenting time, or visitation, will also be contained in the Lake Forest parenting plan.
Until this agreement or other court order is put in place, both parents will have equal rights concerning the child. Both parties will be able to make parenting decisions, and neither can prevent the other parent from seeing the child. A parenting plan becomes valid once it has been written and signed by both parents and a judge. An exception to this standard is if one parent is abusive to the other parent or the child.
The child custody portion of the parenting plan refers to the responsibilities and rights of the parents in taking care of the child. There are two types, and both can be shared jointly or given to only one parent.
- Physical Custody: This determines who the child lives with most of the time. Joint physical custody means the child will spend their time equally split between the parents. Sole physical custody has the child living with one parent and seeing the other during visitation.
- Legal Custody: This decides who makes important decisions for the child. Joint legal custody means both parents share the responsibilities and rights for making important decisions about the children. Sole legal custody provides this to only one parent. Examples of important decisions are childcare, school, medical care, extracurricular activities, or travel.
Both physical and legal custody arrangements should be made in the foremost interests of the child.
Visitation, or parenting time, refers to how frequently each parent will see the child. If one parent is awarded sole physical custody, visitation rights will typically be given to the other parent. There are four types of parenting time orders:
- With a Schedule: Most co-parents and children will benefit from a set schedule that lays out the dates and times the child will be with each parent. This schedule will include the typical week, but it can also include holidays, special occasions, important family dates, and vacations.
- Reasonable: Reasonable visitation is open-ended and allows the parents to develop their own plan. This type of plan works better when the parents are flexible and communicate well with each other. If the parents do not get along, the lack of a set schedule can cause issues.
- Supervised: This type of visitation is applicable when there are any safety concerns about the children’s well-being or safety. It can also be used when the parent and child need time to become familiar and comfortable with each other. Any visits with the non-custodial parent will be supervised by the other parent, another adult, or a professional from an agency.
- No Visitation: The parenting plan will stipulate no visitation. This occurs when a parent’s presence, even in a supervised capacity, will be emotionally or physically harmful to the child.
Factors a Judge Will Consider
- Age of the child
- Health status of the child
- Emotional attachment between each parent and the child
- Capability of the parents to care for the child
- Child’s ties to their home, school, and community
- Any history of family violence or ongoing substance abuse by the parents
What If the Other Parent Refuses to Follow the Order?
A child custody order carries the full weight of the law and must be followed by both parents. Any requested changes must be made through the court to be legal and valid. There are defensive actions you can take if you believe there will be child custody violations, including kidnapping, in the future.
- Develop a Clear and Detailed Order: If there are concerns about the other parent following the order, the ideal course is to create a clear and detailed arrangement. A complete order can prevent misunderstandings by clearly stating what is expected. It will also be easier to enforce. Detailing a specific time and precise location for things like visitation allows the court and law enforcement to easily see when the agreement is not being followed. Safety information can also be laid out in the order, including supervised visitation, travel restrictions, and identifying who can apply for the child’s passport.
- Maintain a Copy: Ensure that an updated copy of the agreement is always available and can be provided to those that may need it. For example, a daycare may need a copy of the order if it specifies who will be picking up the child and when. The police may also need to see the agreement to enforce it.
- Keep Thorough Records: It will be important to keep a detailed record of any child custody order violations. These include the type of violation and the date and time it occurred. This record may help if you later need to enforce or change the order.
- Request a Child Abduction Prevention Order: If you have reason to believe your child is at risk of abduction, you can request the judge order supervised visits. You can also seek to prevent the other parent from removing the child from the county, state, or country. This request must include why you believe there is a risk the other parent will take the child without permission.
Since child custody orders are enforceable by law enforcement or a judge, there are steps you can take after the order has been violated. The specific steps you can take are determined by what the violation is and how severe it is.
- Contact the Local Police Department: If you have a copy of the custody order, and there has been a clear violation, you can request police officers to enforce the order.
- File a Contempt of Court: In cases where the other parent is intentionally violating the custody order, you can file a contempt of court. You will be able to ask the judge to both enforce the order and make a finding that the other party willfully disobeyed the court order. This route can have serious consequences for the other parent and is often complex. Therefore, speak with an experienced attorney to ensure this is the route you want to take. They can correctly file a contempt of court if it is.
- Acquire an Updated Order: Following violations of the custody order, you can request a change in the order. The new order can have additional details and terms that address the previous violations.
- Attempt to Stop the Abduction: If you are concerned the other parent has kidnapped your child, you can seek help from the child abduction unit in your county district attorney’s office. If your child has been kidnapped, and you believe the other parent will attempt to take them to another country, contact the U.S. State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues. They can help provide information to stop an abduction in progress. It is not common for other countries to enforce family court orders. Therefore, the easiest route is to stop the abduction before it progresses outside of the US.
Child Custody With DeArmey Family Law
Entering into a custody case for your child can feel daunting, especially if you are unable to create a parenting plan with your child’s other parent. Our team has decades of experience in family law and collaboration techniques. We can help you avoid expensive litigation by bridging the gap between you and the other parent. If your case does need to progress to litigation, we can aggressively work to reach the most favorable outcome for your child. If you are looking to work with a legal team that will handle your case with diligence and compassion, contact DeArmey Law today.