Many parents’ primary goal during divorce proceedings is to ensure they maintain a close relationship with their children. Illinois law recognizes the importance of both parents remaining in their children’s lives, and has recently moved away from the term “custody” to the “allocation of parental responsibilities,” which emphasizes the importance of the parents coming to an agreement. However, disputes about children can still sometimes be bitter, and it is important to understand your rights as a parent if you find that your relationship with your children is being challenged.
Parenting Time Rights in Illinois
Unless you have been convicted of certain crimes, or otherwise deemed to be a threat to your children’s physical, mental or emotional health, you are legally entitled to parenting time—formerly known as visitation—with your children. For your former spouse to deny this is actually against the law. However, the form your parenting time takes may vary, and it may not be exactly equal to that of your ex, depending on factors like your work hours and where you live in location to where the other parent is located. For example, a parent who lives in a rural area several hours’ flight away from where the other parent and children live may receive less frequent in-person parenting time than a parent who lives 15 minutes away in the next town.
The watchword in determining parenting time rights and schedules is “reasonableness.” A schedule that is unreasonable to one or both parties, or to the children, can lead to significant problems in the future. Illinois works hard to ensure the ideal of reasonableness is upheld so that both parents have as much time as possible with their children. Illinois even offers a special provision called the “right of first refusal,” which allows a parent the first opportunity to take care of the children if the other parent needs child care for a period of time. This right is somewhat unique, having only been adopted in a handful of states up to this point....