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Recent Blog Posts

“Right of First Refusal” Law for Child Custody Arrangements in Illinois: What Does It Mean for You?

 Posted on March 01, 2015 in Divorce

In 2014, a new law went into effect in Illinois that allows courts to give parents with joint custody arrangements a right of first refusal when it comes to the care of their children. A right of first refusal means that a parent cannot leave their child with a third party (such as a baby-sitter or relative) for more than four hours without first offering the other parent the opportunity to watch the child.

Divorcing couples can agree to a right of first refusal when they are deciding on their custody and/or visitation rights. If a couple does not agree to a right of first refusal, the law allows a court to rule that both parents in a joint custody arrangement be given this right.

What Does This Mean For My Custody Rights?

If you and your child’s other parent have not chosen to include a right of first refusal clause in your joint custody agreement, and a court has not insisted on a right of first refusal, then this law does not impact your custody situation.

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Starting a Family via Surrogacy in Illinois

 Posted on March 01, 2015 in Divorce

In the mid-1980s, the “Baby M” case was a major news story, getting nationwide press coverage. It involved Bill and Betsy Stern, a married couple, who chose to sign asurrogacy contract with a woman named Mary Beth Whitehead. Whitehead eventually gave birth to a baby girl, and decided she wanted to keep her – and refused to allow the Sterns custody.

After alengthy court battle, in which the baby was referred to in court documents as “Baby M,” the Sterns were ultimately given custody of their daughter, but Whitehead was given visitation rights. The case still has an impact on how Americans think of surrogacy – and it still causes many couples who are considering surrogacy to worry that the surrogate could change her mind after giving birth, and be granted some form of parental rights.

Surrogacy in Illinois

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What to Do When You Are Denied Your Visitation Rights

 Posted on March 01, 2015 in Divorce

If you are a parent, and you have been granted visitation rights as part of a child custody agreement, it is illegal for your child’s other parent to deny these rights. If this occurs, the other parent can be charged with visitation abuse. If visitation abuse happens repeatedly, it can have serious consequences for the perpetrator – including prison time.

Visitation Abuse

Visitation abuse is a violation of Illinois Statute 750 ILCS 5/07.1. According to this statute, visitation abuse occurs when a party has willfully, and without justification, denied another party visitation as set forth by the court, or exercised his or her visitation rights in a manner that is harmful to the child, or the child’s custodian.

This statute does not just apply to situations in which a custodial parent (that is, the parent who has custody most of the time) refuses to let the other parent see the child at all. It can also refer to attempts to frustrate visitation, such as a parent deliberately arranging a child’s schedule in such a way that he or she will be unavailable during intended visitation hours.

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