Custody Enforcement Orders in Illinois

How to Enforce Custody Orders in ILWhen parental responsibilities are not followed, enforce orders provide a legal means to hold the other parent accountable.

Illinois divorces involving custody disputes are always emotionally taxing. Whether child custody, parental schedules and responsibilities are decided by the court, or through an agreement, they must be be followed. They are not general guidelines but strict rules that must be followed.

If either side violates the agreed upon terms, then the offending side can be held in contempt of court and may face fines or even jail time.

Depending on the severity of the wrongdoing and the circumstances, the offending party may also be required to reimburse court costs and other damages. In instances where one party is found in contempt of court, fines are typically levied instead of jail time as the violations don't often warrant that severe of punishment.

In Illinois the term “custody” is no longer used in lieu of “parental responsibility”, we use custody here to refer to the party that is meant to have time with or responsibility over the child at a given time.

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Methods of Enforcement

Illinois is unique in that violation of a custody order, or “unlawful visitation interference”, can be tried as both a criminal and civil offense. Under the new law, the violation is a petty offense for the first two instances, much like a speeding ticket. But if a spouse keeps violating the order, it gets bumped up to a Class A Misdemeanor which comes with harsher fines and potential prison sentences.

Taking the civil route means going to a family court, and proving that the violating spouse was doing so knowingly. This would typically result in changes to the parenting schedule or make up time being awarded. That said, for serious offenses, the civil court can also impose jail time and fines.

Either way, under the new law, the court will expedite enforcement of these orders, so you won't have to wait long to see a judge.

Prove Custody Violations: Document Everything!

When it comes to enforcing your custody orders, the process always starts by bringing your case before a judge. With this in mind, if you see repeated violations of your custody agreement, the best thing you can do to help your case is to keep proper documentation and records.

It is important to remember the court does not factor personality into their judgment, so sticking to the facts is your best bet. Better yet, if you have paperwork to back up your claims, such as a police, it will be even easier for your attorney to make a case.

In the modern age, the use of text or e-mails as evidence is at the discretion of the judge. If you feel you have an important conversation, make sure to keep a copy electronically (on your phone or computer) as well as a printed copy and be prepared to show both in court.

Petition for a Guardian at Litem

A GAL, short for Guardian ad Litem, is a special attorney assigned to represent children or someone who's not capable of representing themselves. That does not mean they are a legal guardian, nor do they have any legal rights over the child.

Typically, a GAL is only ever necessary when both parents can't agree on large portions of their custody agreement. The GAL's role will be to talk to the child, both parents, and look over the case and make a custody recommendation to the judge as an impartial third party.

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