Visitation and parenting time (formerly called visitation) is one of the most heated debates in divorces that involve children. In most cases, the court will encourage parents to come up with their own visitation schedules based on what’s best for the kids. Many parents are able to develop parenting time agreements that help kids to routines, which is healthy during divorce, and they can work together to share the parenting responsibilities that come with child custody.
But it doesn’t always work out that way.
When parents are unable to agree on visitation schedules by developing an effective parenting plan, the courts must decide what’s best for the children.
Visitation and Parenting Plan Disputes
Illinois courts recognize that kids benefit from spending a significant amount of time with both parents, so when it’s possible, the courts ensure that each parent has frequent and meaningful contact with their children.
When the court must rule on visitation, the judge will consider several factors that pertain to the child’s best interests, including what works best around school schedules and extracurricular activities, each parent’s work schedule, and other issues that could affect a parent’s time with his or her child.
Still, the best plans are those developed by the parents themselves. Nobody knows your family like you do, so you and your ex are the best-qualified people to plan visitation and parenting time. There’s no such thing as a perfect parenting plan, but you can ensure you’re meeting your children’s needs; if there’s a drastic change in your circumstances later, you may be able to modify your child custody agreement through the court.
Common Visitation Issues
Sometimes issues arise that prevent parents from working out good child visitation schedules. In those cases, your attorney may be able to help you petition the court for:
- Supervised visitation. If one-on-one time with a parent may put the child in harm’s way, you may be able to ask the judge to order supervised or restricted visitation. This is common when one parent has a substance abuse problem or has abused or neglected the child.
- Exchanges in safe locations. Parents who have a hard time being face-to-face may benefit from exchanging the child in a public location, such as at a school or police station. This can be particularly helpful in avoiding arguments in front of the children, which can make things harder for them.
- Third-party visitation. You may be able to ask the court to grant visitation privileges to other family members who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to see the child, particularly in cases where those family members (like grandparents) were extremely active in your child’s life.
A Word on Parental Alienation
Each parent has a responsibility to foster a loving relationship between their children and the other parent, but in some cases, one parent tries to alienate the child from the other parent. If this happens to you, you may feel like the other parent is brainwashing the child. This is psychologically harmful – and it’s grounds for reevaluating a parenting plan or visitation agreement.
Has your ex unreasonably interfered with or denied your parenting time? This may be considered abuse of allocated parenting time. SMC may be able to help you stop the parent from interfering with your time and also impose special conditions to prevent it from happening again. Examples of special conditions may be: make-up parenting time, additional parenting time, a requirement that the other parent take a parenting class or any other requirement that that is helpful to promote the child’s best interest.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Visitation and Your Parenting Plan?
I can help you work out a visitation agreement that works for your whole family or fight for your children’s rights, and I’ll be here to answer your questions and give you case-specific legal advice every step of the way.
Call me at 312-818-5279 for a case review. I can help you through this difficult time and ensure that you and your children get the best possible outcome from your divorce.