Visitation Rights for Divorced Parents in Illinois

Child visitation rights are awarded to the non custodial parent when joint child custody is awarded following separation or divorce. During the divorce process, a court may award short term child visitation rights to one parent while the other will be given primary physical custody of the child(ren) while the case is taking place. Long term child visitation rights are awarded in cases where a family law judge determines that it is in the best interest of the children to have regular contact with both parents.

Child visitation rights are considered a privilege rather than an automatically given right. If the court determines that it is not in the best interest of the child(ren) to award child visitation rights to one parent, s/he may award sole custody to one parent. In cases where child visitation rights are denied, the non-custodial parent may still be ordered to pay child support to the parent with physical custody over the child(ren). Child support responsibilities and child visitation rights are two separate matters in the family court's eyes.

Conversely, if one parent receives both child visitation rights and child support payment requirements, he may not lose his child visitation rights even if he fails to pay child support. This does not mean, however, that there are no repercussions for failing to pay court-ordered child support. There are numerous ways that a parent can be punished for failing to pay child support, but loss of child visitation rights is not one of them.

Child visitation rights laws allow parents to work out a reasonable visitation plan at their discretion so long as this plan is in the best interest of the children and both parents can agree to the terms. Negotiating child visitation rights can be done independently or with the help of a neutral third party mediator. A mediator can facilitate a discussion of each parent's needs and wants with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement about child visitation rights without going to trial.

If an agreement cannot be reached through independent or mediated negotiations, the court may intercede to determine child visitation rights. The court may also determine child visitation rights in cases involving domestic violence or highly conflicted families. When the court determines child visitation rights, it will develop a child visitation schedule that both parents and the child are bound by. A typical child visitation schedule allows the non custodial parent time spent with the child every other weekend, some time during the week, and certain holidays.

Child visitation rights can be changed for a variety of reasons including: relocation of the custodial parent, violation of a court order, a parent's job change, danger posed to the children by one parent, and more. The person who wishes to change any part of child visitation rights must petition the court for approval. The goal of child visitation rights is to allow each parent an opportunity to develop a parental bond with their children even if the marital bond no longer exists.