~In this Issue~

Special Education:
Autism and Police Interaction

Family Law:
The Holidays and Divorced or Separating Families

The Role of the Guardian Ad Litem in Divorce or Parentage Cases

At Thanksgiving
Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude." 
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Happy Thanksgiving to all my clients, colleagues and friends.  I am grateful to all of you who have taught me so much and have trusted me to help. I am grateful that I love what I do after so many years. With gratitude.
  Micki Moran                    
Restraint and Seclusion (Stay tuned ...)

In early 2020, the Franczek Law Firm will sponsor and host a conference on the issue of the use of Restraint and Seclusion.  My office is deeply committed to this issue and the elimination of restraint and seclusion on vulnerable students.  The daylong conference will include the following:A screening of the movie "The Kids We Lose"

  • A Question and Answer with Dr. Ross Greene, via Skype, who will provide the audience with practical guidance needed for implementing the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions, problem solving model with behaviorally challenging students.
  • Recommended Reading: Lost and Found by Dr. Ross Greene (Josey-Bass, 2016)
  • www.livesinthebalance.org
A legal panel of psychologists, educators, attorneys, and reporters regarding these complex issues will present and answer questions in the afternoon following lunch.
Further details will be coming soon....  R ead the article in the 
Chicago Tribune November 19, 2019  "The Quiet Rooms" click here
The Holidays and Divorced or Separating Families

The holidays can be fraught with tension for many families who are divorced or who are in transition. Over the years of my practice as a family law attorney, I have developed a list of those things that can help during this complicated time of year.
  1. Plan ahead. That may sound simple but very often clients find themselves in "emergencies" that their ex-spouse has generated. Sit down with a calendar and plan the days that loom ahead. Ask yourself if you and your co-parent are in agreement on where and when the children will be for each designated holiday. These details should be in a well-drafted Parenting Plan. However, parents may disagree on the language or fairness of the allocation of parenting time. This needs to be addressed before the holiday season and not on the day before a major event.
    • Communicate in writing with the other parent. Outline the itinerary if applicable for the upcoming holidays. Confirm in writing that there is an agreement regarding the pick -up times, dates, and any other details that are necessary. Document your efforts to resolve any dispute or your efforts at co-parenting.
    • Let the children or teenagers know of the plans. This discussion and how it is presented varies by age and developmental level. They should not be put in the middle of any discussion where there is a dispute. However, letting them know of the schedule can help ease any anxiety about how the holidays will be celebrated with each parent.
    • Stay positive and be flexible.
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The role of the Guardian ad litem
in divorce or parentage cases

What is a guardian ad litem?
A guardian ad litem is an attorney who is appointed to investigate the best interests of the child. In any proceeding involving the allocation of parental responsibilities, parentage, support, relocation, property interest, abuse or general welfare of a minor or dependent child, the court may appoint an attorney in one of several roles. The guardian ad litem is one option for the court. A guardian ad litem is not appointed in every case. The court will often appoint them if there is no agreement between the parties in child related issues.
The guardian ad litem shall testify or submit a written report to the court regarding his or her recommendations in accordance with the best interests of the child. The report shall be made available to all parties. The guardian ad litem may be called as a witness for purposes of cross-examination regarding the guardian ad litem's report or recommendations. The guardian ad litem shall investigate the facts of the case and interview the child and the parties.
Typically, the guardian ad litem will interview both parents and the children. They will visit each parent's home and may as part of their investigation speak to teachers, the child's pediatrician, relatives, and therapists. Each case is unique. However, the guardian ad litem should be familiar with all the issues and needs impacting the children in the case in order to prepare their report for the court.
What are the factors a court and a guardian ad litem consider in determining the best interests of the child?
Under 750 ILCS 5/602.7, when determining the child's best interests for purposes of allocating parenting time, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including without limitation, the following:
  1. The wishes of each parent seeking parenting time;
  2. The wishes of the child, taking into account the child's maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to parenting time;
  3. The amount of time each parent spent performing care taking functions with respect to the child in the 24 months preceding the filing of any petition for allocation of parental responsibilities or, if the child is under 2 years of age, since the child's birth;
  4. Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to the care-giving function with respect to the child;
  5. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings with another person who may significantly affect the child's best interest;
  6. The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  7. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  8. The child's needs;
  9. The distance between the parent's residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, the parent's daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
  10. Whether a restriction on parenting time is appropriate;
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Autism and Police Interaction

Over the past several months I have had several cases of young people with autism who have been involved with the police for a variety of reasons. In my practice this is not an uncommon situation. However, I wanted to devote some space in the newsletter to this issue in hopes of informing both parents and professionals that autism does not prevent an arrest. The statistics support the fact that an individual on the autism spectrum is more likely to have an encounter with the police. There are many reasons for the contact but often it is the odd behavior or atypical reactions that can result in police scrutiny. One in 5 teens with autism will have an encounter with the police.
Autistic teens and young adults do get arrested and most of them are unprepared for the interactions with police. Parents and special educators don't discuss this topic and fail to educate students with autism on how to behave or explain the risks of what they are doing. Here are a few examples of fact patterns that our office has dealt with regarding this issue.
Joe, a 14- year old with autism and a freshmen in high school has a crush on a girl in his math class. He won't stop staring at her and follows her from class to class. She has asked him to stop following her and has reported this to the assistant principal. The principal warns Joe to leave her alone. Joe can't seem to stop following her and in fact decides he needs to try harder to win her over. He puts flowers by her locker and leaves notes every day on her desk in class. Joe lets her know that he wants to kiss her. He finds her address in the school directory and goes to her house. She is alone and when Joe knocks on her door she is scared and calls the police.    
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Micki Moran, J.D.
The Child & Family Law Center of the North Shore
A Division of Grund & Leavitt, P.C.
600 Central Avenue, Suite 248
Highland Park, IL 60035
Phone 312-640-0500
Fax 847-681-1295