Kevin R. Johnson, Attorney

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Call to schedule, 7 days/week:   312-493-4241

Some hints about seeking ‘maximum freedom of action’ through careful use of parenting-time language.

Kevin Johnson explains why parenting-time schedules should be clearly (very clearly) written, and rigidly followed. 
How does that give you ‘freedom of action?’  This is not the conventional wisdom. See if his explanation makes sense to you.



Custody and Divorce Lawyers – a creative approach

When you are looking to hire a Chicago custody and divorce attorney, what qualities do you seek?  Most attorneys will bill by the hour, give you an office phone number, provide monthly statement of hours worked,and give you copies of all incoming and outgoing documents.  So how can you differentiate between different Chicago custody and divorce attorneys?  Can you:

  • be given a clear roadmap toward progress in your divorce or custody case?

  • reach your attorney by cell phone, for questions or updates, 7 days/week?

  • be given some free minutes each day, so you can pick up the phone and ask your attorney a quick question?

  • use a computer to see and discuss documents, to avoid unnecessary office visits?

  • have confidence that psychological, legal and emotional variables are being considered?


Parents must be on-guard against custody petitions by non-parents

When a parent receives a ‘custody’ petition or motion by a non-parent (grandparent, aunt or uncle, for example) it is important to consult with an attorney immediately.  The parent has important legal rights – including seeking to exclude that non-parent from the court case entirely – that could expire in just a few days after receiving the custody petition or motion.

So timing is very important.  If you are a parent and have received a custody petition or motion from anyone, but especially from a non-relative, please consult with an attorney immediately.  You have important rights and defenses that may expire quickly if you don’t take immediate action.


Divorce, custody, attorneys, and psychological warfare countermeasures

psychological warfare

n.   The use of various techniques, such as propaganda and terror, to lower an enemy’s morale.

— The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
In my work in divorce and custody cases, I often represent and counsel people who are the victims of ‘psychological warfare’ tactics.  These tactics are used by opposing parties to break their opponents will or resistance — in other words, to “take the fight out of them.”   Some tactics include ingratiating or co-opting relatives or friends, giving the other person false or misleading advice, getting the person to distrust his or her own attorney, causing severe financial distress and hardship, and otherwise making the person’s life miserable and nearly unbearable.  These tactics often cause stress and suffering for any children involved, but that does not seem to deter some parents and their operatives.
Fortunately, the people practicing psychological warfare are usually not very creative — they often operate from a limited playbook and are somewhat predictable.   If you, or someone you know, is being terrorized by tactics that seem designed to break you down and give up what’s important to you (custody of the children, or important financial assets), then please call me right away.  I would be happy to discuss the range of counter-measures that I’ve developed.  You are not alone!

Controlling other side’s use of children as messengers, spies and reporters in Divorce and Custody cases

A common complaint by parties in a divorce case involving children, or any other type of decision-making (custody) or parenting-time dispute, is something like, “She’s saying bad things about me to the children.”  Sincere, caring parents REALLY want to reduce the stress on their children that is caused when they hear derogatory comments being made about one parent, by the other parent (or other adults on that side of the case.)

First of all, I do not focus on changing the behavior of the out-of-control or undisciplined parent on the other side.  That is a hopeless quest, if taken by itself.

Let’s face it.  The other parent is probably going to interrogate the children after each parenting-time session with the other parent.  Probably going to expect a report or recap of what was said and done when the children were with the other parent, sometimes down to what was served at meals, what TV shows were watched, who was present in the house, how everyone (including mom’s new boyfriend) behaved, whether the dog was menacing, and probably going to ask the kids to explain why they did not immediately answer their personal smartphones, or respond immediately to texts, when the absent parent tried to check on them.

Instead of trying to change the other side’s communication with the children, I work it from our side:  When with the children, my client can act as if the other parent does not exist.  That seems counterintuitive, with all the talk of ‘co-parenting’ and the need for communications between the parents.  That’s my point exactly — it should be communication between the parents, not communication to the other parent through the children.  If a parent’s got something to say, let him or her write an email or text directly to the other parent — sparing the children the stress of having to be the ‘child soldiers’ or ‘pack mules’ for informing, demanding, questioning, negotiating or generally communicating big and little things to the other parent.

So, a common technique that I employ is to advise my client to stop the children from bringing information to them about ‘the other side of the fence,’ the other parent’s world.  Just by interrupting the child in the middle of the sentence, like this:

Child:    Daddy?

Dad:      What is it, honey?

Child:    Mommy says…

Dad: (abruptly) We don’t talk about that.

Child:    But Daddy, this Friday Mommy….

Dad:(talking over the child)  Honey, we don’t talk about that.  I’ll talk with Mommy.

Child: (relieved)  OK.

You see?  The child had a message from the mother, that she had been tasked with delivering to the father.  But the child does NOT want to be the bearer of messages — Not At All.  The father, by abruptly and firming stopping the child from performing the message delivery, really did the child a favor. 

The goal is to take children out of the conflict and out of the communication channel between the parents, take the children out of the role of spy, messenger or reporter — and to restore their innocent childhood as much as possible.

Now, you will hear well-educated people, including therapists, say that children should be allowed to speak freely with a parent about anything.  These people have not fully thought through the consequences of this in a custody- or parenting-time dispute, though.   The undisciplined parent who allows information to pass through their child’s head, either by allowing or encouraging updates and reports of life on ‘the other side of the fence,’  or sending pointed questions or even everyday messages through the child to the other parent, is not really thinking about the stressful impact of this on the child, and how it essentially robs a child of his or her childhood.

If no one’s ever talked like this with you, and you’d like to see a fuller picture or possible options and strategies for your particular case, please give me call.


Why it is BAD to obtain information about the other household through your children

I meet many people who insist on talking with their children about the other parent’s household. Parents who are separated think that they see their child’s true personality and their unforced, natural behavior.

In reality, under the tremendous performance pressure of passing back and forth between hostile households, children tailor their behavior, their words and actions, to the particular parent.

For Dad, they talk negatively about Mom and appear reluctant to go to Mom’s house.

For Mom, they complain about Dad’s girlfriend, about Dad’s strange behavior, about how bored they are at Dad’s house and they express reluctance to go to Dad’s house.

It’s a perfect storm of misinformation!
Both parents, hearing negative things about the other parent, believe that they are winning the war for their child’s love and affection. Each of them believes that they are gaining and are now more likely to become the majority-time parent. The child, with full knowledge of both parents’ insecurities and fears, and with first-hand, accurate information of the true situation at each household, is in an unnatural position of power.

If you’d like to discuss your particular divorce situation, either before or after you’ve filed a case in court, please give me a call anytime, 7 days/week, at 312-293-4241.

– Kevin Johnson