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Football club owner's behavior influences child custody dispute

The company a parent keeps may influence the outcome of legal disputes with an ex. Illinois family courts place children's best interests first in child custody cases. While neither parent's fitness may come into question, Wheaton judges are sometimes required to decide whether contact with a third party is detrimental to a child's well-being.

The owner of the National Football League's Indianapolis Colts was arrested in March. Police said Jim Irsay was stopped for driving erratically. Arresting officers reported the ball club owner was too intoxicated to stand without support.

Investigators alleged Irsay was driving under the influence of a powerful prescription painkiller.Prosecutors originally intended to file felony drug possession charges. Irsay faces trial in August for drugged driving charges and possible disciplinary action from the NFL.

The team owner's alleged behavior is affecting a couple's child custody case. A divorced non-custodial father is worried about Irsay's influence on his children, ages 12 and 17. Irsay owns the home where the children and their mother live and apparently spends a substantial amount of time with the family.

The non-custodial parent's complaint stated the children occasionally visited Irsay's home, a separate residence, and vacationed at the NFL club owner's lake house. The father of two is afraid Irsay's "behavior and lifestyle" are negatively influencing the children. Irsay recently was ordered to appear in court to testify in the custody case.

The parents agreed to a joint custody arrangement as part of the couple's 2013 divorce. The mother notified a family court when she and children moved to the Irsay home in March. The custody dispute is running parallel to a legal issue over back-owed child support; the father is pleading poverty.

Custody agreements may be modified when there is evidence children have been exposed to individuals with a history of criminal charges, violence or substance abuse. The influencing party may be someone other than a relative.

Source: Lafayette Journal & Courier, "Jim Irsay must testify in divorced couple's child custody case" Mark Alesia and Tim Evans, Indianapolis Star, Jul. 09, 2014

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