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When your child's other parent is dangerous

Photo of Karen Lavin

When a marriage dissolves, it can bring out the worst in everyone involved, flaring up negative qualities in otherwise reasonable individuals. In and of itself, this can make the process of settling child custody arrangements extremely taxing, but sometimes a parent will exhibit behavior that crosses the line between frustrating and dangerous, and even outright abusive. This necessitates a completely different kind of approach to custody arrangements. If you are in a custody arrangement with an abusive person, there is no need to enable this person to commit further abuse.

One of the most commonly used remedies against parents who are charged with abuse is for a court to mandate that any visitation privileges be supervised. You may already be in a standing custody arrangement that grants the abuser visitation rights, in which case you will need to request that the judge overseeing your case issues an order making supervision mandatory.

Here's where the situation can get complicated. When supervision is ordered, it is usually only ordered for a set length of time, instead of indefinitely. Also, if the supervision term runs out and there are no further issues that can be documented, then the abuser can use that supervised visitation as a demonstration of "good behavior" that may convince the judge to grant him or her greater privileges than they had to begin with. This may include more frequent unsupervised visitation, and even possibly some type of custody of the child.

This is not to say that you should allow an abusive parent to remain unchecked, but it is wise to know all the facts before you make a request to the court. Dealing with an abusive parent is one of the most difficult and draining types of custody, but you do not have to fight that battle alone. An experienced custody attorney can help guide you through the best approaches for achieving your goals and keeping your child safe.

Source: Women's Law, "Illinois: Custody," Oct. 09, 2016

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