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Illinois Court Dismisses “Bad Mothering” Case

By Nottage and Ward on September 13, 2011

For the past two years, until the end of August, two children, raised in a $1.5 million home in Barrington Hills by their lawyer father, had been pursuing a lawsuit against their mother for “bad mothering,” seeking more than $50,000 in damages for emotional distress, according to The Chicago Tribune.

In their claim, the children included alleged offenses committed by their mother, such as telling her 7-year-old son to fasten his seat belt or she would call the police, failing to take her daughter to an auto show and requiring that her daughter leave early from homecoming. Also included in the offenses were sending birthday cards that were “inappropriate” or did not include a check or cash, or not sending birthday cards at all. The mother’s attorney cited the lawsuit as a “litany of childish complaints and ingratitude” as well as a vengeful attempt by the children’s father, whom the mother divorced in 1995, to label her as an inadequate mother.

Illinois law is very clear for a lawsuit of this nature. Unless “extreme” or “outrageous” conduct could be proven, a child does not have a rightful claim to emotional distress against a parent. As a result, the case was thrown out of two courts in the past two years. After the case was dismissed by a Cook County circuit court, the children appealed, after which the case was also dismissed by an Illinois appellate court. The appeals court also stated that ruling in favor of the children could potentially subject child rearing to “excessive judicial scrutiny and interference.”

Family law is very complex, especially when a parent-child relationship is involved. It becomes even more complicated when the situation involves a divorced parent-child relationship. If you have questions or concerns regarding a family law situation in Illinois, contact the experienced family law attorneys in Chicago at Nottage and Ward at 312-332-2915. We can help you understand your legal rights and provide you with realistic options to resolve your family law situation.

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