Serious Endangerment of Minor Children

The unthinkable is just that, no one wants to acknowledge that such tragedy could ever touch their lives. However, two families recently realized that it could happen to anyone, including them. In October 2013 the father of a 6 month old child left his little girl in the care of his Mother-in-law, unaware that she was capable of using a sledge hammer and knife to silence the child’s crying. In December 2013, a distraught Father, involved in a divorce, threw his 3 year old son off of a 52 story roof top and then leaped to his own death rather than dealing with the custody and visitation issues pending in his divorce case.

Unfortunately, these stories are not isolated instances of tragic desperation. Often, parties to domestic relations cases see no hope in the resolution of child related issues. That lack of hope coupled with mental illness can often result in tragic results. As a parent, it is imperative that you make note of any unusual behavior such as signs of depression, out of character comments, and unusual actions and reactions.

Under Illinois law, a parent’s access rights to children can be limited if the other parent poses a physical, mental or emotional endangerment to the child. However, the threat has to be brought to the court’s attention in order to obtain the court’s protection.  Therefore, if you have concern, communicate those issues to your attorney so the problems can be properly investigated and resolved.

Informal Parenting Agreements Can Lead to Un-Happy Holidays

It doesn’t matter if you’re rich and famous, wealthy, middle-class, or poor. Family court issues for couples going through a divorce or separation can happen to everyone, and every family can face even ordinary family law issues. With the holidays rapidly approaching, many separating/separated parents face problems with respect to holiday and winter break visitation and access to the children. Parents with informal agreements (i.e., agreements that have not been entered with the Court) will face issues when vindictive motives compels a parents to go to court for a formal Order resolving issues of reasonable child support calculations, specific access schedules to protect a parent’s rights, and a multitude of other parenting issues which can be resolved through a formal Custody Judgment or Order of Court.

Take, for example, the continued saga which is the divorce of Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards. Most splits of famous couples garner attention but few have achieved the level of notoriety of this particular couple, whose divorce was finalized in November 2006, and the divorce has only preceded a custody battle. Many will agree that Charlie Sheen and Denise Richard’s divorce was one of the ugliest in Hollywood, and they’re in the news again. TMZ is reporting that Charlie is vowing to go to court to establish reasonable child support and parenting time because Denise is allegedly refusing to allow Charlie to have his daughters on Christmas and is even refusing to allow Charlie to talk to the girls on the phone. Denise is purportedly getting $55,000 per month in child support based on an informal agreement with Charlie, and Charlie now wants to take Denise to court (again) to reduce child support and obtain a specific parenting schedule. (See: http://www.tmz.com/category/dirty-divorces/)

Clearly, an agreement regarding your parental rights and obligations should not be based on a simple, and hopefully good-faith, “handshake”. Ultimately, when Charlie takes this issue to court, Charlie may be able to get his child support reduced and will likely get a specific regular and holiday visitation schedule. However, unless Charlie goes into court on an emergency basis to have access to his kids on Christmas, nothing can make up for the lost time with his children this holiday season, and this all could have been avoided if an order was already in place granting him specific access to his kids.

Dwyane Wade Single Father Essay

Dwyane Wade, a Chicago native, is a professional basketball player who currently plays for the Miami Heat. His basketball skills keep him in the news, but so do his family law issues. After a contentious divorce from his ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, which lasted three years, Wade was awarded sole custody of the parties’ children in 2011. In spite of this, the custody battle continues.

Wade recently published an essay sharing his thoughts on being a single father to his two sons. The essay highlights the central role parenthood plays in Wade’s life and tells single parents that there’s no perfect way to parent every child. He speaks of the lessons he wants to impart on his children; namely, his “beliefs about respect, responsibility, hard work, having dreams, and always being open to learning…”

Wade’s hope is that his essay helps open up a dialogue and also inspires fathers to be present in their children’s lives and inspire single parents to persevere in the face of difficult situations. His hope is that his essay reaches all parents, including those who raise children that may not be biologically their own.  Wade has been recognized for his public love of his children and taking responsibility for their well-being.

Wade’s essay can be found here: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/31/living/rise-of-single-fathers-dwyane-wade/index.html