You obviously want what is best for your child. As a parent, you probably understand that decisions that are made regarding child support, custody, and visitation are not necessarily for your benefit or that of the other parent. Instead, they are made, or at least supposed to be made, with the best interest of the child in mind to the extent that a judicial entity like a court can determine.
Following a divorce or a breakup of unmarried parents, sole legal custody of the child or children may be granted to one parent, while the other parent retains the right to reasonable visitation. Visitation, frequently scheduled in a formalized manner, is a consideration granted in order for the non-custodial parent to foster a relationship with the child.
Regardless of the type of custody arrangement, Illinois law starts from the default position, generally, that involvement by both parents in the child’s life is most beneficial. Over time, though, parental behavior or circumstances may indicate to the custodial parent that the other parent’s participation is negatively affecting the child. If you find yourself in a situation like this, what should you do?
The other parent’s right to visitation is not statutorily absolute; in fact, they can be limited or terminated if the court finds that visitation is seriously endangering the child. In your child’s best interest, you may petition the court to restrict the other parent’s visitation with your child. To be successful in such an action, you will be required to demonstrate that by action or inaction, the physical, mental, moral, or emotional health of your child is being placed at serious risk during and due to visitation with the other parent. Frequently cited sources of endangerment include:
- Suspected physical, emotional, or mental abuse;
- Abuse of alcohol or other controlled substances;
- Suspected involvement in illegal activities; and
- Association with friends or acquaintances who present a danger to the child.
Based on a preponderance of evidence, meaning endangerment is more likely than not, the court may take action to limit or restrict visitation. Termination of visitation rights is legally a possibility, but is generally reserved for the most extreme situations. Visitation may be restricted in a number of ways, often related to the location and required supervision of scheduled visits. Additionally, the court may place limitations on overnight visits or the association of the child with other individuals or situations deemed to be dangerous.
If you believe that your child is being seriously endangered due to visitation with his or her other parent, do not wait any longer. Contact an experienced family law attorney in Illinois today and take the steps necessary to protect your child. We will help you understand your options and work with you to ensure your child’s safety, now and in the future.