The Law Office of Christina Martell

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How Do Child Abuse Allegations Affect Illinois Child Custody Disputes?

Posted on in Divorce

Winfield child custody attorney

A child’s best interest is the key focus of any custody decision in an Illinois divorce. If parents do not agree on child-related issues, Illinois courts will intervene, and they usually favor a shared parenting arrangement. However, if a parent is believed to be a danger to the child, that parent may not be allocated any of the parental responsibilities, or their time with the child may be restricted or supervised. The job of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) is to protect children. If they see, hear, or believe a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect, a caseworker may open a child custody case to determine if a parent should be involved in his or her child’s life. According to the United States Children’s Bureau, the number of children who received a child protective services investigation or alternative response increased 10 percent from 2013 to 2017. These investigations are intended to protect the child from further harm. 

If You Are Accused of Child Abuse

Whenever an incident is reported, a DCFS caseworker’s job is to investigate the case to find out if it meets the agency’s guidelines for uncovering abuse. Additional steps may include a home visit by the caseworker within 24 hours of the report. During the home visit, he or she will gather and review any evidence and talk with other individuals who are involved in the case. These people can include your child, your child’s doctor, family members, and/or teachers. The caseworker will have 60 days to complete the investigation and come to a final decision. If he or she determines that the report revealed evidence of abuse on your part, further action will result. To ensure that your rights are protected, you should contact an attorney as soon as you learn that you are under investigation by DCFS.

Indication Notices

If DCFS files an "indicated" report, this means the caseworker has found enough evidence to believe that your child was likely to have suffered abuse or neglect. If you believe these findings are incorrect, your attorney can help you draft a written appeal request to DCFS to challenge the findings of the investigation. If your appeal is approved, a court hearing may be held to review the case and determine whether the alleged abuse occurred. If the indicated finding is upheld, it will become public record on the Child Abuse Registry, and it can affect whether or not you are allocated parental responsibilities. 

Contact a West Chicago Family Law Attorney

Accusations of child abuse are taken very seriously by the state of Illinois. Not only can they result in criminal charges, but they can also impact child custody and parenting time. If DCFS is concerned about your child’s well-being and has opened a case against you, contact a knowledgeable Kane County child custody lawyer from The Law Office of Christina Martell. Call our office today at 630-717-2772 to schedule a confidential consultation. Your initial $100 fee will be applied to your account after your first appointment. 



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