What Are My Options If My Ex Is Denying Visitation With Children?

When you file for divorce in Illinois, the court will write a child custody order that details each person’s visitation and custody right for the children. However, sometimes the parent with custody will not allow the other parent to see the kids. This is a custody order violation, and the parent denied visitation has options if this happens, as detailed below. Talk to our Chicago child custody attorneys at Office of Fedor Kozlov today if you need legal assistance.

What Is A Child Custody Order?

The judge issues the custody order after a divorce according to the child’s best interests instead of the suitability of a parent. The judge will consider the wishes of the parent and the child, how well the child adjusts to a new home or city, and the health of everyone involved in the case.

After the parents are issued the child custody order, it has to be followed by both parties. For instance, the judge may order child visitation every other weekend for the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent must allow the other to see the child on those days.

If one parent refuses to let the other visit the children, the judge can enforce the child custody order. Violating any aspect of the child custody order or not following the visitation schedule can result in a contempt of court charge. Also, as you will see below, denying visitation is a criminal offense.

Unlawful Denial Of Visitation In A Criminal Offense In Illinois

It is illegal under Illinois law to deny parenting time or visitation that the court has ordered. This crime is a Class A misdemeanor in the state and can be punished by a jail term of less than a year and a fine of up to $2,500.

It is debatable whether you would want to get the police involved in a denial of visitation case. Taking the case to law enforcement may cause more problems and discord with your ex. Also, if the children see this escalation, it could upset them. It might be best to contact our Chicago child custody lawyers to mediate the dispute for you.

Common Examples Of Denying A Child Custody Order

Some parents want their ex-spouse to have little time with the children even if they are ordered to do so by the court. Some of the common ways that parents may try to deny visitation and parenting time are:

  • Refusing to allow the parent to see the children
  • Taking the children to another state without the other parent’s permission
  • Not going to mandated counseling appointments
  • Not telling the other parent about where the children are
  • Keeping the kids for longer than the court allows
  • Not showing up for child visitation appointments

Why Do Some Parents Deny Child Visitation?

There are many reasons why the custodial parent may not allow the other parent to see the child. Some of the most common ones are:

  • The parents have different views on how the child should be educated.
  • They have opposing perspectives on the child’s religion or religious upbringing.
  • The parent has been accused of a sex crime, child abuse, or domestic violence.
  • The noncustodial parent has not kept up with child support payments.
  • One parent disapproves of the other parent’s new partner.
  • The child does not want to spend time with the other parent.

As noted earlier, it is illegal in Illinois to deny visitation to a parent if the court has ordered it. Therefore, if the parent wants to change the visitation agreement, they must return to court and modify it.

If one parent believes the child is in danger from the other, they must take steps before denying the parent the right to see their child. For example, you can call the police or talk to child support services. Otherwise, you should speak with your lawyer and consider returning to court to change the visitation agreement.

Why Jurisdiction In Important In Child Visitation Disputes

Jurisdiction is critical in cases where the child visitation schedule is not followed, and the parents live in different states. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act sets up rules regarding which state has jurisdiction in these disputes.

The Act is what determines which is the child’s home state. Only the family court in the designated home state has jurisdiction over a child custody or visitation fight. Also, only a court in the home state may intervene in the child custody case.

Courts in Illinois would have jurisdiction in a child custody dispute if the child lived in the state for the last 180 days. Or, the child lives out of state but has been living in Illinois with one of the parents in the previous six months.

Steps When You Are Denied Child Visitation Rights

If the custodial parent violates the child custody order and does not allow you to see the kids, you should take the following actions.

Use Mediation

Our Chicago child custody lawyer can help you mediate child custody issues with your ex. Divorce mediation is a viable option when you cannot resolve the issue with your ex-spouse alone. Mediation may allow you both to resolve the matter without returning to court.

Go Back To Court

If mediation does not produce a resolution, you may need to return to the family court. Remember, violating a custody order or visitation schedule can result in criminal and civil penalties. Under state law, the first two violations are petty offenses. However, when the ex repeatedly denies visitation, it can become a misdemeanor offense.

Taking the case to court may result in the judge changing the visitation or parenting schedules. The court also may order that the other parent make up the lost visitation time.

Collect Evidence

Before going to court to enforce the child custody order, the parent that is being denied visitation must prove their case. You must show that your ex-spouse deliberately denies your child visitation rights. Records and documentation of this intent will help your child custody attorney present the best case.

You also must obtain a copy of the parental responsibilities court order. Other required documents are a Petition for Rule to Show Cause and a Notice of Motion. This petition must detail the nature of the child visitation violation with dates and what you want the case’s outcome to be.

File Legal Documents

Next, the documents above must be filed with the appropriate circuit clerk. You can file the documents electronically unless the other parent has an exemption. The parent who violated the visitation order must also receive a copy of these documents. They can be delivered with an E-Service System or by registered USPS mail.

Present Your Case

The party who has violated the custody order can present their defense to the court. The judge will listen to both parties, then the court will make its decision. However, a final resolution may take several dates in court.

If the judge thinks the parent violated the order without cause, they will be held in contempt of court. If the evidence you show is insufficient, the case is dismissed.

Asking The Court To Deny Child Visitation

Sometimes, the parent can ask the court to deny child visitation to the other in limited circumstances. This is the most common way the parent has to try to deny the other parent their visitation rights. However, this does not mean the court will honor the request.

Remember, the court makes its rulings based on the child’s best interests. Unfortunately, in many cases, denying visitation may not be in the child’s best interest. Therefore, most Illinois family courts only deny visitation rights in extenuating circumstances. Some of the conditions that could lead to such an order are:

  • If it is proven that the parent is sexually abusive or violent toward the child.
  • The parent has kidnapped or abducted the child before.
  • The parent emotionally abuses the child.
  • The parent uses illegal drugs and does so in front of the children.
  • The parent shows other behaviors that are harmful to the child.
  • The parent is in jail or prison.

Can A Parent Lose Custody If They Deny Visitation?

Yes. A parent might lose custody if they regularly deny the other parent their visitation rights. Only the court can deny one of the parents their visitation rights. You must get a court order to prevent the parent from seeing their child.

If the parent denying visitation were to remove or hide the child from their home, they could lose custody. They also could lose other critical parental rights. The court may punish the custodial parent if they deny the other parent their visitation rights. The punishment will vary based on the length and frequency of the visitation rights denials.

For instance, the judge could suspend or deny child support payments, award custody to the other parent, or hold the parent in contempt.

Contact Our Chicago Custody Attorneys Today

Most parents have a right to visitation with their children after divorce. However, if your ex denies your visitation rights, you must not tolerate this. You have legal rights, and our attorneys can help you. Contact our child custody attorneys in Chicago at the Law Office of Fedor Kozlov today at (847) 241-1299.

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