What Are My Visitation Rights as the Non-Custodial Parent?

visitation, Illinois law, Illinois family law attorneysParents who are divorced or unmarried face often face significant challenges in remaining an active part of their children’s lives. As a non-custodial parent, especially, you may find getting access to visitation with your child to be difficult, let alone developing a meaningful parent-child relationship. Despite the obstacles, however, you know how important your child is to you, and understanding your legal rights can help you take necessary steps toward your more prevalent role in his or her life.

Reasonable Visitation Rights

The law in Illinois presumes that the best interests of a child are served when he or she enjoys a positive relationship with each parent. As such, any parent who is not granted custody of a child is granted reasonable rights to visitation. “Visitation” is a term which may be used to describe interactions between the child and a parent in various custody situations. For example, if your child’s other parent was granted sole legal custody, you generally maintain visitation rights. Alternatively, if you and the other parent have been granted joint custody, your child will likely maintain a primary residence with one of you while enjoying visitation with the other.

While the law does not explicitly state what is meant by reasonable visitation, the standard is generally set on a case-by-case basis. Considering all of the circumstances surrounding the situation, as well as input from the parents, the court will make decisions on visitation that look to meet the child’s needs.

Exercising Your Visitation Rights

The first step in securing your rights to visitation is ensuring that formal custody agreement exists as a matter of public record. You and the other parent may have made decisions regarding the current custody situation, but if it was not entered by the court, enforceability is nearly impossible. Whether you are seeking joint custody or visitation, petitioning the court for a custody order can help establish your rights. The formal order can include a mandated schedule for visitation with which the other parent must comply under penalty of contempt. If you already had a custody agreement which did not include a specified visitation provision, you may also seek modification of the original order.

Sometimes, however, a visitation order is not enough and the custodial parent may still make visitation unnecessarily difficult for you, or simply refuse to comply. In such a case, your only recourse may be to file a petition with the court for contempt. Based on the facts, the court may alter the visitation schedule or custody order, and may even impose penalties on the parent for visitation interference.

Professional Legal Counsel

If you have had difficulty with your rights to visitation with your child, a qualified lawyer can help you understand your options. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. We will review your case and will work with you to protect your rights under the law.

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