Get Help From a DuPage Child Visitation Lawyer
When parents divorce, child visitation and custody can be a major point of contention between them. While it’s best for divorcing parents to work together to come up with visitation arrangements that are convenient for both parents and in the best interests of their child, parents don’t always agree about the best way to do so. Disagreements can degenerate into major battles that are harmful to all parties involved.
To help prevent problems when making important decisions concerning child visitation and custody, it makes sense to have guidance from an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney. The seasoned Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe and Stec, Ltd. have extensive experience assisting families in developing child custody and visitation arrangements. We understand that these issues can be difficult for parents and children, so we focus on providing solid and compassionate legal services throughout the process.
When you choose us, you will find that our family lawyers are special. We will:
- Meet with you to determine what your needs are, as well as those of your divorcing spouse and those of your children
- Handle your case with sensitivity, respect, and discretion
- Investigate your individual situation and cut through arguments and confusion, to find the best solutions possible
- Help develop and implement visitation plans that suit your lifestyle and that of your divorcing spouse
- Be there to fight for your rights and advocate for you should problems arise.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your individual child visitation and custody situation and determine the best way to proceed. Don’t delay. Call our offices today to schedule your free consultation. Get help now at 630-305-0222.
Visitation Attorneys Explain Changes in the Law
Custody and visitation issues are covered under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The Act allows reasonable visitation for the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child, “unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.”
Attitudes toward parental custody and visitation are changing. In the past, the courts would give one parent “custody” and the other parent “visitation.” On January 1, 2016, the revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act changed this vocabulary. Instead of “custody,” the courts now refer to the decision-making issues for the child as the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” The new term for visitation is now “parenting time.”
One parent may still have most of the decision-making responsibilities, or these responsibilities may be split between the parents. As far as parenting time is concerned, children may spend most of their time with one parent, or they may split their time fairly evenly with both. Deciding how much time the children will spend with each parent and which parent will have decision-making authority for the major issues must be determined according to the individual child’s best interests.
Visitation Lawyers Discuss Arrangements and Rights
Many divorced parents now share physical custody of their children, moving them between households on a regular basis, but many still have the arrangement where the child lives with one parent and the other parent has regular visitation rights. Depending on circumstances such as the children’s ages, the parents’ work schedules, and the distances between homes and schools, visitation options may include:
- Co-parenting (where each parent has the child 50% of the time)
- Summer and extended-vacation visitation
- Alternate weekends
- Weekday visitation
- Holiday visitation
- Open internet or telephone contact/visitation.
Assuming that it is in children’s best interests to have regular contact with both parents, Illinois courts restrict a noncustodial parent’s visitation rights only when finding that visitation would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health. The custodial parent must first prove that visitation with the noncustodial parent will endanger the child’s well-being.
Even if serious abuse is proven, the courts probably still will permit some visitation, but with supervision or restrictions, such as prohibiting overnight visits or visits while the parent is under the influence of mind-altering substances.
Child Visitation Attorney in Woodridge Helps with Parenting Agreements and Schedules
Our Attorneys Know It’s Better to Reach Agreement
When parents can agree on an arrangement for parenting time and allocation of responsibilities and draw up a “Joint Parenting Agreement” on their own, it is almost always preferable to litigation. When the court accepts your Joint Parenting Agreement, it becomes the Joint Parenting Order and becomes legally binding, and both parents must follow it.
In developing a parenting time schedule, you should include:
- A residential schedule that shows weekday and weekend parenting time under normal conditions
- A holiday schedule for how to split holidays and special occasions
- A summer break schedule that shows how parenting time will be split during summer break
- Time when each parent may take vacation with the child
- Provisions such as the right of first refusal, when a parent must first offer the other parent the opportunity to take the child if the parent is leaving the child with a child-care provider.
You can put the schedules on a calendar and include it in your parenting agreement. If you and the other parent can’t agree on a visitation schedule, the court will make one for you.
Visitation Lawyers Determining Best Interests
If parents do not agree, the court will examine the facts of the case and use the “best interests of the child” standard in reaching its decision. Factors the courts will consider include:
- The wishes of the child, depending on age and maturity
- The amount of time and resources each parent has put into taking care of the child in the preceding two years
- Prior agreements between the parents
- The relationship between each parent and the child
- The interaction between the parents and any other adult who may significantly affect the child’s interests
- The distance between the parents’ residences; the cost and difficulty of transporting the child; each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules; and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement
- Physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child or other member of the child’s household
- The mental and physical health of all individuals
- Any adjustments a child must make in communities, schools, and homes.
Visitation Lawyer in Dupage County Discusses Visitation and Moving
When one parent wishes to move, it can create parenting time problems. Illinois law provides that a parent who has not been granted significant decision-making activities will be entitled to a reasonable parenting time schedule with the child, which can be difficult if one parent moves a distance away. Therefore, Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/600(g)) has specific distance limitations on how far a parent can move with a child, even within Illinois, without getting permission from the parent or a judge.
Parents who do not have the majority or equal parenting time may move wherever they want, but there are restrictions for parents who have the majority or equal parenting time with their children. These parents can move in the following situations:
- less than 25 miles from the child’s current primary residence in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will Counties;
- less than 50 miles from the child’s current primary residence in any other county;
- to another state that is less than 25 miles from the child’s current primary residence in any county.
The 25- or 50- mile limit is determined by the county you’re moving from, not the county you’re moving to. This can sometimes present problems — for example, if moving from a rural area to a congested city.
Even if parents who are moving do not need permission, they should always keep the non-residential parent notified of where the children are residing. If they are moving beyond the allowable distances, they must get permission to do so.
Visitation Lawyer Helps with Rights of Relatives
Unlike parents, grandparents and other relatives do not have a legal right to visitation. However, a grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling denied reasonable visitation may file a request for a visitation order from the courts if . . .
- the child’s parents are not currently living together on a permanent or an indefinite basis, or
- one of the parents is deceased or has been missing for more than three months.
Other relatives, such as aunts, uncles, and cousins, do not have any legal right to visitation.
The court will issue a visitation order if it determines that visitation with close relatives is in the best interests of the child.
Child Visitation Attorney in Woodridge Answers FAQs
When you are dealing with child visitation issues, you are bound to have questions and concerns. These can best be answered in your free consultation, but to get you started, here are some answers to questions our clients often ask:
Is there a “standard” visitation schedule the courts go by?
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act visitation statute does not contain any standard visitation schedule, but local courts may have rules that contain standard or suggested schedules for visitation. In the past, one parent was often granted “residential custody” or “primary physical possession” of the child. The other parent would then be the “non-custodial” parent and would be granted a reasonable “visitation schedule” that was often alternating weekends, time on one day during the week, alternating holidays, and an extended summer visit. Now, children may spend most of their time with one parent, or they may split their time with both, but neither parent is labeled “primary” or made to feel as the “secondary” parent. Instead, factors that are considered when determining scheduling include the age of the child, the relationship between the parent and child, the distance between the parent and child, the school and extracurricular schedule of the child, the availability of help from relatives, and other factors affecting the best interests of the child.
What role does sole or joint custody play in determining visitation schedules?
Whether you have sole or joint custody doesn’t play a role in determining visitation schedules, and there generally may be no difference at all. “Joint” custody has more to do with your “parenting agreement,” which delineates certain responsibilities for each parent in making decisions in the major areas of a child’s life, including health, education, and religion. “Sole” custody can provide for as much visitation as joint custody, depending on what parents work out for the best interests of the child.
What happens to visitation when one parent moves far away?
When one parent moves far away, a new parenting time agreement should be made based on the best interests of the child and other factors. If long distances are involved, the non-custodial parent is likely to have less frequent contact with the child, but may have the child for longer periods of time, such as for the majority of the summer vacation. Consideration must be made for the age of the child, the possible means of transportation, and the distance between both parents’ homes. The situation become more complicated when an international move is involved.
Can a child refuse visitation with a parent?
Children are not allowed to refuse visits, but it can be more difficult to force an older child to visit a parent than a young one. While a child won’t face sanctions for refusing visits, there may be consequences for the other parent who allows the refusal. This is because both parents have the responsibility to encourage and facilitate visitation. Older children may express their preference to refuse visitation, but a court will cut off a parent’s visitation only in the most extreme circumstances.
What if visitation endangers the child?
Illinois law allows a court to restrict a noncustodial parent’s visitation rights only if, after a hearing, the court finds that visitation would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.
A custodial parent cannot decide unilaterally to restrict the other parent’s visitation rights unless it’s an emergency situation and necessary to protect the child. Even in cases of domestic violence or serious abuse, some visitation is likely to be allowed under supervision or other restrictions, such as requiring that visits be supervised by a third party, to ensure the child’s safety.
Can I deny visitation if the other parent fails to pay child support?
No. Child support and visitation rights are separate things, and a parent who won’t or can’t pay child support is still entitled to regular visits with the child. Child support is for the child’s benefit, not the other parent’s; the courts presume that the child does better when seeing both parents regularly, unless there’s evidence to the contrary. If you feel that your children are being harmed by the other parent, you should consult an attorney.
These issues are complicated and seriously affect the child’s best interests. Before you take steps and make any decisions that involve your child’s well-being, contact the experienced child visitation lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, to determine your rights and responsibilities under Illinois law. Call Our Attorney 630-305-0222
Contact a Visitation Lawyer in Dupage County for Guidance
Visitation and child custody issues are complex and vital to your children’s well-being and adjustment. The facts and circumstances of every case are different, and situations of parents and children often change, so it makes sense to seek legal counsel to reach the best arrangement for your family. The skilled Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., represent and advise clients in all types of matters related to making and modifying parental plans; we can also help you with child custody, child custody removals and paternity issues.
Delaying can only make your situation worse. For a free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County custody lawyer, contact us today at 630-305-0222.
Visit our firm’s child custody information center for valuable background information.
Attorney Natalie Stec
Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]