When parents in Illinois are going through a divorce, one may be worried about the child’s safety with the other parent. This was the case for one parent who said the child’s mother drank too much. When they separated, she took their 7-year-old son and cut off contact even though the father had been the son’s main caregiver his entire life. The father was worried that she would drink and drive with their son in the car.
Courts want to ensure that children are safe, and a parent can get emergency custody if a child is not. However, in some cases, it can be difficult to prove that a child is in danger. For example, a court ruled that a father who drank nightly was not a danger to his children because there was still no evidence that he did so when his children were with him.
A parent may need to produce an arrest record or similar evidence to show that the child is unsafe with the other parent. Witness testimony from a neighbor or child care provider may help in the absence of that type of evidence. Parents should also document their involvement, including taking the child to appointments, and any conflicts with the other parent. This record may be useful if the child custody case goes to court.
The conflict between parents can be the most difficult element of the divorce process for children, and negotiating child custody can lead to less conflict than fighting in court. However, if a parent feels the child is unsafe with the other parent, this may not be possible. A parent who has substance abuse problems might be limited to supervised visitation until fulfilling a requirement such as going through a treatment program.