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Child custody cases take unique turn in Illinois

The question of who is responsible for children is a key one in society. Child custody issues often dominate divorce cases, including those in Illinois. These issues also come up when parents surrender their children voluntarily.

Many parents in Illinois have been concerned that their children who have been diagnosed with severe mental illnesses have not been able to get the residential and community services they need. This situation has been attributed to the decrease in funds for Individual Care Grants, which are used for those services. Compared to 5 years ago, the grants are only taking care of half as many families.

Correspondingly, many families are voluntarily surrendering custody of their children to the state. According to a report from WBEZ, this is being done in the unrealistic hope that those children will then be able to get needed care from the state.

In addition to decreased funds for grants, ICG paperwork is challenging for many families. It has been referred to as grueling, with a lot of complex paperwork and requirements for documentation. Families dealing with the application process have expressed that they feel the state is discouraging them from pursuing services they need.

Parents who are trying to get the state to take responsibility for the children are doing so with lockouts. Lockouts are when a parent refuses to let their child live with them and haven't made alternative living arrangements. This often happens when a child is released from a psychiatric facility.

Child custody issues are almost always complex. Whether occurring in cases like this or when children's living arrangements are at issue in a divorce, there are always many factors to consider. All involved parties should consider attorneys to represent them, and make sure the children wind up in the best situation possible.

Source: NonprofitQuarterly.org, "Families Forced to Relinquish Child Custody to Get Mental Health Services" Rick Cohen, Dec. 19, 2013

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