What visitation rights does a noncustodial parent have?
A noncustodial parent has a right to reasonable visitation with the children. The children’s ages are considered in determining reasonableness, as well as the visitation circumstances. Visitation may be restricted only upon a showing that it would endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health. Even in cases of serious abuse, visitation is likely to be permitted, although supervision or other restrictions may be ordered. Visitation may be modified from time to time by the court, as the child’s needs require. Visitation abuse occurs when a party has willfully and without justification denied another party court-ordered visitation, or exercised his or her visitation rights in a manner that is harmful to the child or child’s custodian. Court-ordered visitation may be enforced on an expedited basis in cases of visitation abuse.
Under what circumstances will visitation be prohibited or restricted?
In matters of visitation, the primary concern of the court is the welfare of the child. Courts take the position that the best interest of the child is normally fostered by having a healthy and close relationship with both parents. As a result, Illinois law provides that a parent not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health. Only very extreme circumstances require and allow the trial court to permanently deprive a parent of visitation. In order to restrict visitation rights, the custodial parent must prove that the visitation endangers the welfare of the child.
Generally, a parent’s behavior which is not shown to have an adverse effect of the child will not be considered in granting visitation. Where, however, the court finds that the child’s well-being may be endangered because of the parent’s behavior, visitation may be prohibited or restricted. For example, a parent may be denied the right to overnight visitation in the presence of a paramour if the court is concerned that the child’s moral development could be influenced by the parent’s choice of living arrangements In such a case, overnight visitation might be allowed at the home of the child’s grandparent. Courts have preserved the visitation rights of a mother confined in a penitentiary for murdering her husband, and of a mother who had been arrested for disorderly conduct in the presence of her children and had been physically restrained for her own protection while hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.