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Illinois family law attorneyIt seems like the world has changed dramatically in the last few years. In many ways it has. Parents who get divorced have an entire new set of obstacles and challenges to face as co-parents.

If you are getting divorced and you share children with your soon-to-be-ex, you will need to make a parenting plan that describes your parenting time schedule and the allocation of parental responsibilities. When you complete your parenting plan, make sure to consider modern issues such as:

Technology and Screen Time

Many parents worry about their children spending too much time on their cell phone, computer, or tablet. Make sure to discuss whether you and the other parent will institute rules about how and when your children use technology. Consider questions like:


Cook County family law attorneyGetting along with your ex during and after an Illinois divorce can be challenging. Unfortunately, sometimes parents will be so upset after a divorce that they deliberately influence their child’s perspective of the other parent, using tactics such as belittling, criticizing, interfering with contact, and undermining the child’s relationship with the other parent. If you are the recipient of this behavior, read on to find out what you can do.

Is Parental Alienation Real?

Illinois law deliberately rejects the term “parental alienation syndrome,” because it is too subjective for practical purposes. However, the law does recognize that certain behaviors might be considered alienating and can be detrimental to the child’s health and wellbeing.

It is important to take alienating behavior seriously. A child does not have the experience or maturity to understand adult conflicts and can feel ashamed and responsible for their parents’ negative emotions. In addition to the harm this does to the child’s wellbeing, sometimes alienating behaviors can have a permanent effect on the long-term relationship between a parent and child.


Rolling Meadows IL child custody lawyerIn our previous post, we discussed at length what parents can expect when a guardian ad litem is appointed to a case involving the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois. But guardians ad litem are not the only people involved in discovering and representing the best interests of a child in a custody dispute.

In addition to a guardian ad litem, an Illinois court may assign a custody evaluator or a child representative. Although these people play somewhat similar roles in a custody evaluation, there are some crucial differences that determine which of them may be involved.

What is a Custody Evaluator?

A custody evaluator is a third party, usually a psychologist or psychiatrist, who takes an active, investigative role in a child’s home environment in order to make a report–and possibly a recommendation. Custody evaluators will interview parents, children, and other individuals who frequently interact with the child, such as extended family members, teachers, or neighbors.


Rolling Meadows family lawyerIf you are involved in a combative or complicated child custody dispute, you may be surprised to find that a judge has appointed a guardian ad litem to your case. Although having a guardian ad litem assigned to represent the interests of your child can be intimidating, this is a fairly normal court procedure, and it does not have to be something to be afraid of.

Our last post discussed what a guardian ad litem is and what they do; here, we discuss what you should do if one has been assigned to your case.

Be Calm and Communicative

If a judge has already appointed a guardian ad litem to represent your child’s interests, do not panic. It doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong. Usually, a judge will do this because they need more information to get an objective sense of what is best for your child.


Rolling Meadows IL family lawyerAlthough parents typically want what is best for their child, this is not always the case. Unfortunately, during hostile or combative child custody battles in Illinois, parents often strongly disagree about which of them deserves parenting time. Parents may make accusations of mistreatment or abuse, or attempt to estrange a child from the other parent.

Judges, who are ultimately responsible for applying Illinois law and making decisions in custody battles, often need more information than the biased pictures they get from a child’s parents and their attorneys. In situations like this, Illinois courts will often appoint a special representative to seek out what is in the child’s best interests. This representative is called a guardian ad litem.

Investigating a Child’s Best Interests

“Ad litem” is a Latin legal term used to refer to a court-appointed representative of an individual, such as a child or incapacitated adult, who cannot represent themself. In Illinois, guardians ad litem are always lawyers, but not just any lawyer can be a guardian ad litem. Lawyers who want to become a guardian ad litem must take special training preparing them for the rigors of the role and must continue to take training throughout their career.

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