Court ordered visitations after a court decides a custody issue is supposed to be made on the same basis as the custody issue; that is, visitation should be awarded if it is in the best interest of the child. However, even if the court finds that visitation is in the best interest of the child, it may also find that the visitation should be supervised.
Following changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage law that took effect on January 1, 2016, Illinois courts will now refer to visitation as parenting time. Parents are usually encouraged to work out issues relating to their children before presenting an agreement to the court. In cases where the parties cannot agree, the court may make determinations regarding parenting time. In making this determination, both parents are presumed to be fit parents, and limitations on parenting time are not to be placed unless the court finds that granting parenting time will seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health. The court may also consider how the parenting time would impact a child’s emotional development.
It is important to note that the court is not allowed to consider a parent’s conduct in deciding whether or not to grant parenting time, unless that conduct is in direct relation to the child. Therefore, it is possible that accusations of abuse towards the other parent, that are not alleged to have been towards the child or witnessed by the child, may not bar the alleged abuser from being granted parenting time.
Either parent can request that if the court grants parenting time to the other parent, it consider making the time supervised. If there is a court appointed guardian ad litem, he or she may also make a recommendation of supervision to the court if it is in the child’s best interest. Where a court finds that a parent has engaged in conduct that may endanger the child or the parent is a flight risk, the court can deny the parent parenting time or order the parenting time to be supervised by a third party. In some cases, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services may be ordered to conduct the supervision. If the court finds it necessary, it may further order that the exchange of the child for the supervised visits be done through a third party intermediary and not directly through the parents.
If a court orders supervised parenting time, the parent whose parenting time is supervised can later seek a modification if he or she feels that the factors the court relied on in ordering supervision no longer apply.
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