Is a Parent Permitted to Restrict or Deny Parenting Time?
Establishing and maintaining a meaningful connection with one's child is one of the primary goals of all parents. While this effort often becomes more complicated as a child grows up, parents that are separated or divorced have an even bigger hurdle to overcome.
Nurturing a relationship with one's child when custody is shared is challenging for both parents, but the parent allocated the lesser amount of parenting time must work even harder to overcome the lack of time together. Parents generally have a right to exercise a reasonable amount of parenting time with their child, and are presumed fit to exercise parental responsibilities unless evidence is submitted to show the contrary. However, in practical terms, one parent — often the mother — is granted a greater share of the parenting time and care taking duties. The other parent, on the contrary, is typically left with weekends — not always consecutive — and one night per week to foster the parent-child connection.
Reflecting the tendency for fathers to receive less parenting time, a non-profit hosted a free event for fathers in Chicagoland affected by divorce or other family disruptions to learn how to be the most effective parent possible under such circumstances. Regardless of which parent has a greater role in a child's day-to-day life, the parent with more parenting time has the power to block the other parent from seeing the child, in violation of the parenting plan.
Consider the following legal options available to parents denied parenting time, and how the Court addresses this issue,.
Responding to Denial of Parenting Time
The purpose of a parenting plan is to legally establish a parent's right to see and make decisions related to his or her child. Thus, parenting plans are legally enforceable documents that do not allow one party to unilaterally make changes. Further, the failure of a parent to pay child support does not justify restricting parenting time — a failure which can lead to serious consequences as an unauthorized violation of a parenting plan.
Parenting time and child support are certainly related. However, legally speaking, they are treated separately and are not dependent on each other for compliance with the parenting plan. A parent unjustifiably denied parenting time can petition the Court to enforce the terms of the parenting plan, which is handled on an expedited basis due to the importance of the issue at stake.
Potential Actions by a Court
If a Court determines that a violation of the parenting plan or Court order occurred, then the Court has a number of options to compel future compliance. Moreover, the ones selected will depend on what is in the best interests of the child. However, note that restrictions or denials of parenting time due to domestic violence or other threats to the child's well-being are not usually considered violations, and the other parent could face consequences of his or her own.
When violations are found, a Court can order the following:
- An opportunity to make up the lost parenting time, provided the additional parenting time is the same length and type previously granted, and that the lost time is made up within six months of the non-compliance if possible;
- Order the non-compliant parent to pay the other party's costs, including attorney fees; and
- Hold the noncomplying parent in contempt of Court, which often includes the impositions of fines and can even lead to probation or jail time.
Consult an Illinois Family Law Attorney
Spending time with your child is a precious gift that parents do not want to waste. If you are dealing with an ex- spouse or partner who does not want to follow the parenting plan, talk to a passionate Palatine family law attorney about enforcing your rights.
The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. understands how important and sensitive this issue is, and will work to find a solution that protects your child and secure your rights as a parent. Contact the office today for a free initial consultation.