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Can I refuse or stop the other parent's visitation when no court order for visitation has been entered by an Illinois judge or administrative hearing officer?
When a court order has yet to be entered to grant visitation to the other parent, then the custodial parent or the parent in possession of the child can simply deny the other parent visitation, correct?
Yes, that is true. However, that is not the whole story. Even when a court order does not exist for visitation by the other parent, and if the parent having the child denies visitation over an extended period of time, this may give rise to a claim that he or she is interfering with the other parent's relationship with the child, sometimes called "parental alienation." This could be a basis for the visiting parent to ask for custody of the child if the child's custody has not been established by court order.
In making initial orders of custody, Illinois courts seriously consider a parent's attitude and behavior toward making visitation happen for the other parent as a factor in a later custody case. In fact, a person otherwise qualified to have custody, who consistently denies the other parent visitation, can lose custody this way.
Are there times when stopping or refusing visitation is justifiable?
Yes there are. For example, these times may include the following:
Again these are just examples. The list is endless. But what is important is the effect of the visiting parent's actions on the child. Is the child being hurt by the visiting parent's actions or neglected?
So what can I do to refuse or stop the other parent's visitation, which I know harms our child, and at the same time protect myself from claims that I am alienating our child?
First, you can take the child to a mental health professional. A child psychiatrist, a child psychologist, or a licensed social worker may all be consulted. A therapist can assist your child in dealing with whatever problems that the visiting parent presents and can give that child strategies for dealing with that parent. In addition, if the therapist recommends no visitation, you then have an expert who can testify on your behalf to stop the other parent's visitation.
Second, save and preserve any form of communication from the other parent which can demonstrate to the court that the other parent is making bad choices with respect to your child. Save emails, text messages, voicemails, Facebook pages, or recordings of the parent acting out.
Third, keep a daily diary of things that your child tells you about the visiting parent which you know to be dangerous to your child. Include in your daily diary your observations of your child before and after visitation with the other parent. Also jot down in your diary your conversations with the other parent which tend to prove the other parent is mistreating the child.
Finally, seek the help of an experienced DuPage County child visitation lawyer who can improve the odds that you can refuse or stop child visitation while not being punished by the court for denying visitation. Our child custody lawyers at Martoccio & Martoccio have had many years of experience assisting parents who want to stop or refuse child visitation. Let us help you. Let our child custody lawyers at Martoccio & Martoccio guide you through this complicated area of law to protect your child both now and in the future.