Restricted Parenting Time
Legally speaking, regular parenting time (formerly known as visitation) with the parent with whom the children do not regularly reside is presumed to be in the best interests of a child. However, sometimes, a parent may have good reason to try to limit the other parent’s time with the child. In Illinois, in order to impose a restriction upon parenting time, the court must conduct a hearing and find that the parenting time would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.
Examples of circumstances in which restricted parenting time may be appropriate include:
- A parent has been guilty of a violent crime or a crime against child
- A parent has a current drug or alcohol problem
- A parent has severe anger issues or have been guilty of domestic violence
- A parent has severe mental health issues
- A child has special needs the parent is not equipped to handle
Although the above provide some examples in cases in which restrictions may be appropriate, the court will assess each case is individually, and the judge has discretion to determine whether or not to impose such restrictions. The party seeking to restrict visitation bears the burden of proof. Moreover, judges can be skeptical of accusations that cannot be substantiated with evidence of specific facts to show that the child’s health was or would be endangered. . Therefore, the parent seeking restrictions on the other parent’s parenting time must be able to independently confirm and prove his or her concerns in court.
Typically, a court will not allow a child to testify in court. In cases where the child is a key witness on the issue of whether parenting time should be restricted, it is often necessary to find another way to bring that evidence to the court’s attention. The most common way to do so is for either parent to request the appointment of a guardian ad litem or child’s representative. The guardian ad litem or child’s representative can then articulate the child’s version of events to the court.
In cases where the court determines that unrestricted parenting time may be detrimental to a child’s well-being, the court may impose various forms of restricted parenting time. One such type of restriction is supervised parenting time. In supervised parenting time, a third party, often a friend or relative both parents trust, is required to be present during each visit between the parent and the child, to ensure the safety of the child. In cases where the parties can’t agree upon a supervisor for parenting time, a knowledgeable family law attorney can direct clients to other resources for supervised parenting time.
Restricted parenting time is not limited to supervised parenting time. In extreme cases, parenting time may be denied altogether. Where appropriate, a court may impose a “no overnight visitation” restriction. A court may also restrict the parent’s ability to do certain things (such as drive a car) or take the children to certain places (such as a relative’s home where drug use is prevalent).
Whether the best interests of your child demand that you seek to impose restrictions upon a non-custodial parent’s parenting time, or whether they demand that you seek to exercise unrestricted parenting time, the attorneys at Kollias & Giese, P.C. are here to help. Contact us today for a free, 30-minute consultation.