How Domestic Violence Can Impact Custody Decisions

When courts are making child custody decisions in Illinois by allocating parental responsibilities, the existence of domestic violence can affect the allocation judgment. Domestic violence can, in some cases, result in a restriction on parental responsibilities, which may include a restriction on a parent’s significant decision-making responsibilities and/or a restriction on parenting time. Whether or not a restriction on parental responsibilities is appropriate is an issue that the court considers when it is determining what is in the best interests of the child. Our Cook County child custody lawyers can help.

Understanding Domestic Violence in Illinois

Domestic violence is taken extremely seriously in Illinois, and it can impact how a court allocates parental responsibilities. Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, domestic violence is defined as abuse, which “means physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation.”

Domestic violence can include abuse between family members who are blood relations, people who are related through marriage (even if the marriage has ended), people who currently live together or formerly shared a residence, those who share a child, and people in a dating relationship.

Domestic Violence and the Restriction of Parental Responsibilities

In some family situations where domestic violence issues have been raised, or there has been a history of domestic violence, the court may be able to restrict parental responsibilities. When courts allocate parental responsibilities, one of the factors a court will consider is whether or not a restriction of parental responsibilities, including a restriction of significant decision-making responsibilities or parenting time.

However, in order for the court to restrict responsibilities, it must first go through a hearing. Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the court can restrict parental responsibilities if, after going through a hearing, the court finds that a parent seriously endangered the child’s health or well-being or negatively impacted the child’s emotional development. If the court determines that issues of domestic violence would endanger the child’s health or impair the child’s development, it can restrict parental responsibilities.

How Parental Responsibilities Can Be Restricted

What can a restriction of parental responsibilities look like? Depending upon the nature of the domestic violence and the specific family situation, the court may, for example:

  • Reduce, eliminate, or adjust a parent’s decision-making responsibilities or parenting time;
  • Require supervision while the parent spends time with the child;
  • Require an exchange of the child through an intermediary or in a protected setting;
  • Limit a parent’s communication with the child or the other parent;
  • Require the parent to avoid alcohol or drugs during and around parenting time;
  • Restrict the presence of a particular person (or persons) when one of the parents has parenting time (such as a significant other); or
  • Require a parent to complete an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program.

The court can also require any restrictions more generally that it determines to be necessary for the child’s health and well-being.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Illinois

If you have questions about how domestic violence can impact the allocation of parental responsibilities, one of our dedicated Illinois child custody attorneys can discuss your case with you today. Contact Arami Law, Inc. to learn more.

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