During a divorce in which children are involved, one of the main issues may be determining visitation. Whether the parents have joint custody or one parent has sole custody, visitation may still be an issue. Visitation in Illinois is considered more for the benefit of the child, and a parent who is not awarded primary custody is entitled to reasonable visitation, unless a court determines that visitation is not in the best interest of the child. However, Illinois law requires that before a judge may restrict or limit visitation, a hearing must be held to determine whether awarding a parent visitation would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral or emotional health.
How to Set a Visitation Schedule
During the divorce process, parents who cannot resolve visitation issues will usually be sent to mediation to work on setting up a visitation schedule. Ultimately, once an agreement is reached, the schedule is incorporated into a Parenting Agreement which is presented to the court for approval. Once approved, the visitation becomes incorporated into a court order.
Note that in some cases, Illinois law may also allow grandparents to petition a court for visitation rights. This may be something to consider if you want to restrict your spouse's ability to send your children to his or her parent's house during visitation. Depending on the relationship the grandparents have with the child and the satisfaction of certain factors under the law, a court may award grandparents visitation rights.
Thereafter, as time goes on, circumstances may change and it may be necessary to modify visitation. If either parent finds a new job or moves, making visitation difficult, one or both parents may ask the court to change the visitation.
Another reason for seeking a modification would be in the case of visitation abuse. Visitation abuse occurs when one parent:
- Denies the other parent visitation rights despite a court order allowing it; or
- Exercises his or her visitation rights in a way that harms the child or the other parent.
In the case of visitation abuse, the court provides a faster way to seek a modification of the visitation order.
After Visitation Abuse Has Occurred
If the court finds that there has been visitation abuse, the court may modify the visitation order to restrict visitation times, order supervised visitation for the visitation abuser, make-up visitation time for the other parent, or order mediation and counseling. There are also personal consequences for visitation abuse on the abuser. The court has the power to order a suspension of driving privileges, fines, probation and even jail time for the abusing parent. Visitation interference is also a Class A misdemeanor under Illinois criminal law.
Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney
If you have a child visitation order in place, and would like to seek a modification, contact a compassionate DuPage County family law attorney for help. The attorneys at MKFM Law can assess the facts of your case and advise you as to whether or not you should seek modification.