Child Visitation: Why It’s So Important

Entering into a suitable child custody agreement with an ex-spouse, while also negotiating the terms of a divorce, can be a stressful experience. It may be difficult to look past the hurt caused by a significant other when trying to pick up the pieces of a broken marriage, but when children are involved it is crucial to do so. Although divorce has become more prevalent these days among our society, research still suggests that it can have a detrimental effect on child development if not handled with care. Children flourish best when they have the guidance and support of both parents and this can still be achieved despite an impending divorce. Child visitationlaws in Illinois highlight the importance of cultivating relationships with not only both biological parents, but with also extended family such as grandparents, great-grandparents, and siblings.

Illinois Child Visitation Laws for Non-Custodial Parents

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (The Act), a parent who does not have custody of a child is entitled to reasonable visitation with the child. Visitation is further defined as in-person time spent with a child and his or her parent. There are some circumstances where a parent may not be granted visitation, but for the most part, when both parents can provide the child with a safe environment, the courts encourage adequate child visitation.

Like most matters surrounding children, the courts will refer to the best interest of the children to determine what is reasonable visitation. However, reasonable visitation usually means that the non-custodial parent (parent who does not have custody of the child) is permitted overnight visitation every other weekend, two weeks during the summer, and every other major holiday. Typically, a child custody agreement approved by a judge will outline the visitation schedule in detail to minimize the likelihood of complications arising in the future.

Extended Family Visitation Laws

Parents are not the only members of a child’s family that are entitled to visitation. According to The Act, grandparents, great-grandparents, and siblings are permitted to petition the court for visitation rights when the child’s parents deny visitation, as long as the children are minors who are at least one year old, the parent’s denial of visitation is unreasonable, and one of the following conditions are met:

  • A child’s parent has deceased or has been missing for three months;
  • A child’s parent has been deemed as legally incompetent;
  • A parent has been in jail for three months following the filing of a visitation petition;
  • The court will also consider several other factors to determine whether visitation by the extended family should be granted. If you are contemplating divorce in the Wheaton area and want to ensure that you have favorable child visitation rights included in your child custody agreement, contact the experienced Wheaton child visitation attorneys at Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C. today. We know how important it is to preserve the parent-child relationship and will passionately represent your interests.
  • The child’s parents are divorced or legally separated and at least one of the parents does not object to the extended family’s visitation;
  • The child’s parents are unmarried and not living together and the maternal grandparent or sibling is seeking visitation; or
  • The child’s parents are unmarried, not living together and the court establishes paternity, if the paternal grandparents or siblings are seeking visitation.