Each parent has rights. Divorce can be messy, but most judges believe that both parents should be involved with their children. This parenting time with the noncustodial parent is instrumental in the growth and development of a child. In Illinois, the law has mapped out specific guidelines for visitation rights.
After the divorce proceedings, parents are either named custodial or noncustodial. In some cases, the visitations are part of an agreement between both parents, but the courts award custody depending on what is in the best interest of the children. The parent who is not awarded physical custody is entitled to a specific schedule of time to spend with the children. Work and school schedules, individual needs and preferences of the parents and children can all be factored in creating an appropriate solution. In cases with child abuse or domestic violence, the court appoints a third-party supervised visit. A social worker, psychologist, guardian or other person will accompany the parent on the visit to ensure the safety of the child.
Child Support and Visitation
An important thing to remember is that there is no correlation between child support and visitation in Illinois. They are two legally separate matters. A parent with physical custody of the children cannot deny visitation rights based on failure to pay child support. A noncustodial parent can also not stop paying support because visitation is denied. If the noncustodial parent contests custody because of visitation interference and is late on child support payments, the judge may ask why parent is behind on the payments. Failure to comply with a visitation order is a criminal action, and the offending parent could be subject to fine and possible jail time. Modification of a visitation schedule is possible, and any parent who violates the child visitation agreement without cause could be held in contempt of court.
Denying visitation rights does not specifically merit a custody change; however, if the custodial parent commits visitation interference, then the situation may represent cause for a change in circumstances. For example, if a mother changes a child's surname, then this may be seen as an outward attempt by the mother to cut the father out of the child's life. Another example would be overloading the child's schedule during the noncustodial parent's time. An attorney specializing in family law could advise a client on the best method to proceed if the custodial parent is not being cooperative.
Overnight, weekend and vacation visits may be granted by the court system to grandparents. This notice must be included in the divorce decree. Some cases might not need a visitation lawyer to work out an agreement. It is important to get this in writing--either included in the original divorce decree or later during modifications--if it is believed that the custodial parent may deny visitation.