The amount of time that a non-custodial parent or guardian is allowed to visit their child depends on many factors. Generally, a court will not restrict visitation in either a joint custody arrangement or a sole custody situation except when it's necessary to protect a child's welfare. In Illinois, courts use the terms "parenting time" instead of "visitation" and "parental responsibilities" instead of custody. This terminology is considered more appropriate for family law issues, in which determining winners and losers can be a hard way of characterizing the sensitive situations surrounding a custody dispute.
Under Illinois law, the restriction of parenting time refers to any limit or condition on parenting time, including supervision. Courts in Illinois don't typically place restrictions on parenting time, unless necessary to prevent serious endangerment to a child. A court may find that serious endangerment exists based on a parent's conduct during a divorce or paternity case or based on any other conduct that would significantly impair the child's emotional development. In some cases, the court can enter orders to prohibit contact with that parent.
In Illinois, courts can create whatever restrictions they deem necessary to protect the child, including those which:
- require supervision at visits;
- mandate locations for visits;
- deny visits when the parent is under the influence of a substance such as drugs or alcohol or has used them within a designated period preceding the visit; and
- prohibit overnight visits.
Additionally, only parents have a legal right to parenting time. However, under certain circumstances grandparents, great-grandparents, step-parents, and siblings may ask for a visitation order from the court when they have been denied reasonable visitation.
Illinois Child Visitation Laws at a Glance
There's value to reading the literal language in a statute, but it's helpful to also see the statute in plain English. The chart below provides you with a helpful overview of the "parenting time" laws in Illinois.
Illinois Statutes Chapter 750 Section 5/602.7 (Allocation of Parental Responsibilities)
|When a Court May Restrict Parenting Time
Generally, courts will allocate parenting time according to the child's "best interests." Unless the parents present a mutually agreeable "parenting plan" which is approved by the court, the court will decide the terms. Both parents are presumed "fit" and courts will not restrict parenting time unless there is a preponderance of evidence that a parent's exercise of parenting time would seriously endanger the child's:
- moral; or
- emotional health.
|Factors Considered in Determining a Child's "Best Interest"
A court will look to several factors when determining how to act in a child's best interest, including:
- each parent's wishes;
- the child's wishes;
- prior agreement or conduct between the parents related to caretaking;
- the child's adjustment to their home, school, and community;
- mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- distance between the parents' residences, transportation costs and challenges, schedules, and the parents' ability to cooperate in the arrangement;
- parental willingness and ability to place the child's needs above their own;
- threatened or actual abuse or violence towards any household member;
- convicted sex offender status of a parent or someone with whom they live; and
- any other factor the court decides is relevant.
The court will take all these factors into consideration when it allocates parenting time for each parent.
Illinois Statutes Chapter 750:
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Illinois Child Visitation Laws: Related Resources
Get Legal Help with Child Visitation in Illinois
It's important that you protect your right to parenting time in order to maintain a close, healthy relationship with your child. If you think you need parenting time with your child established or changed, it's a good idea to get in touch with a skilled child custody attorney in Illinois who will be well-versed in the state's parenting time laws and how they affect your particular situation.