Dupage County Lawyers

Illinois Child Visitation Lawyers

REAL PROBLEMS. REAL SOLUTIONS.

When parents divorce, child visitation and custody can be a major point of contention. While most parents can agree that decisions should be made for the best interest of their child, parents don’t always agree about what constitutes that best interest.

When making important decisions concerning child visitation and custody, it makes sense to have an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney on your side. 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.

Our family law attorneys help families develop and implement visitation plans that suit their lifestyles. We offer a free consultation to discuss your individual situation, so call our offices today or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

Changes in the Law

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.“ “Parenting Time” became the new term for visitation.

One parent may still have most of the decision-making responsibilities, or these responsibilities may be split between the parents. 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 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.

Parenting Agreements and Schedules

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.

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 Rights of Relatives

Grandparents and other relatives do not have a legal right to visitation, but 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

Contact Us for Help and Guidance

Visitation 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 custodychild custody removals and paternity issues.

For a free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County custody lawyer, contact us today by calling or contacting us online. Visit our firm’s child custody information center for valuable background information.

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