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Mom of Children Who Drowned Seeking Custody of New Family

Posted on in DCFS

endangerment, illinois courts, Lombard family law attorneyIn 2003, headlines around the country told the tragic story of three small children who drowned while trapped inside a car after it rolled into a lake in central Illinois. The children’s mother and her boyfriend were subsequently charged with first-degree murder, when the story they told about being unable to free the children did not hold up to investigative scrutiny. The boyfriend was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, while the mother was convicted of child endangerment and served five years in prison. Now, the woman is back in a Cook County court, looking to regain custody of the three children she had since her release.

New Name, Same Concerns

Since her imprisonment, the beleaguered woman has changed her last name, a development that allegedly caused child welfare officials to be slow to realize that she had started a new family. When the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) came to the realization that she was the same person whose children had drowned, the agency began looking closely at the situation, eventually removing the new children last year. Prosecutors in Cook County are concerned that the woman’s current decision-making is similar to that of her past, and that she is likely to put her children at risk again.

Testimony from the court hearing indicated that the woman has accused her current husband, who she met in a halfway house following her release from prison, of abuse and domestic violence on several occasions. On at least one occasion, she reported that he had abused her in front of the children. She has since dropped all such petitions, but the allegations may be relevant to the current proceedings in court.

The Court’s Considerations

There have been no indications thus far that the children themselves have been physically abused, but according to those familiar with child law, the court may base its ultimate decision on "anticipatory neglect." This means that a court does not have to wait until a child is actually harmed if the parent or adult in question has a history of abuse or child endangerment. However, the woman’s past cannot be solely used to determine that she is unfit if she can show that she is currently a capable parent. There are concerns, however, that the woman has not maintained her required treatment for mental illness, to go along with domestic violence allegations.

Legal Help for Your Child-Related Case

If your family has been affected by an investigation by the DCFS, you need a lawyer who is committed to helping Illinois families stay together. Contact a compassionate Lombard family law attorney at A. Traub & Associates today and get the help you need in protecting your children and your parental rights. Call for a consultation at one of our two convenient office locations and find out what our team can do for your family.


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