Court-ordered visitation time is just that—court-ordered. As such, a custodial parent is violating the law by denying you visitation with your child, or by reducing the time that you spend with your child by dropping them off late or insisting that you have them home earlier than the parenting plan mandates. This interference damages the bond between non-custodial parents and their children, creates conflict between the parents that the child will inevitably pick up on and blame themselves for causing, and is a common tactic to “get back” at the non-custodial parent for grievances of the past. According to Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/10-5.5, a parent who is found guilty of unlawful visitation or parenting time interference has committed a petty offense. The third offense is a Class A misdemeanor. The non-custodial parent has the option of filing a petition for unlawful visitation interference.
Other Types of Interference with Visitation and Custody
- Custodial parent agrees to drop the child off for visitation and they bring the child late;
- The custodial parent insists on picking the child up early, before visitation time has expired;
- Custodial parent does not make the child present, or does not have them ready to go, at the agreed upon time and location for the non-custodial parent to pick the child up for visitation;
- The custodial parent makes excuses to alter the days of visitation, to reduce the hours or days of visitation, or threatens to disallow the non-custodial parent access to their child if they do not agree to the custodial parent’s terms;
- The custodial parent insists on tagging along or acting like a supervisor during visitation time activities when the non-custodial parent does not want them to participate in visitation;
- Denying the child to talk on the phone or via email with the non-custodial parent; and
- Asking the child to report on the non-custodial parent in order to petition the court to reduce their visitation rights.
Remedies to Interference
If the court agrees with your argument:
- You may be awarded extra visitation time to make up what you lost;
- The court may permanently change the custody agreement to give you shared or full custody, assuming you meet the definition of statute 50 ILCS 5/600 for “caretaking functions;” and/or
- The other parent may be fined or even given a jail sentence.
Interference Needs to Be Habitual in Order for the Court to Take Action
If the interference is a one-time thing or happens just occasionally, you may not have a solid case to petition the court to change the custody agreement or getting back your lost time. The interference must be habitual....