Neglect is a term thrown around quite frequently in heated custody battles by one parent directed at the other. However, what constitutes neglect? Leaving a child alone for an afternoon may seem like an unwise, irresponsible thing to do in one parent’s opinion, but perfectly normal and acceptable to the other parent.
At what age is it okay to let a child walk to school? In Utah, a law was recently passed that allows “free-range parenting,” giving parents the legal right to allow their children to walk or ride their bikes to school, to play in a park unattended, or be at home alone unsupervised — all contingent on the child’s age and maturity level for the situation at hand. While Illinois has no such free-range parenting law, there is still much up for debate when it comes to what is and is not acceptable, and what constitutes neglect in the eyes of a family law judge.
Evidence of Neglect May Show That Joint Custody Is Not in the Child’s Best Interest
As you may well understand, an Illinois family judge will make his or her custody decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests, not what is in the parents’ best interests or who makes the most compelling argument about how their child loves them the most. As such, in a contested divorce, it is not unheard of for spouses to bicker about each other’s faults as a parent. Usually, these faults are benign. Forgetting to pick up a child at school once in a blue moon should have no real effect on a custody decision. However, more commonplace mishaps or egregious parenting choices can hurt that parent’s chances for custody. Being accused of neglect is a serious allegation, as it shows the court that that parent does not have what it takes...