Under the changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the consequences of one parent’s interference with the other parent’s allocated visitation time are more severe and rigidly enforced than previously. The violation of a parenting agreement can result in a variety of civil and criminal penalties and range from fines and driver’s license suspensions to probation and jail time. Moreover, a negative impact on a child's well-being is extremely likely to occur with regard to scheduled visitation interference.
The new law, which went into effect this year, requires Courts to provide expedited procedures for handling the enforcement of parenting time. In order to bring an action for enforcement of visitation rights, a parent or guardian must file a petition with the Court. The following information must be included:
- The petitioner parent’s name and address;
- The respondent parent’s name, address, and place of employment;
- The terms of the parenting plan;
- A description of the violation of the parenting agreement, including dates and other relevant information; and
- An explanation detailing any reasonable attempts to resolve the dispute.
If a Court finds that a parent has not complied with the parenting agreement, then one of the following may be required:
- Compliance with additional conditions that are consistent with the Court’s previous order;
- Either one or both of the parents to attend a parental education program, which is to be paid for by the non-compliant parent;
- The parents’ participation in family or individual counseling, which will be funded by the Court system;
- The non-compliant guardian to post a cash bond or other type of security to ensure future compliance with the parenting agreement;
- The provision of make-up parenting time;
- A finding that the non-compliant parent is in contempt of Court;
- The payment of a reasonable civil fine;
- Reimbursement to the other parent for reasonable expenses incurred due to the violation of the parenting plan; or
- Any other order or requirement that aims to promote the child’s best interests.
If a Court finds a non-compliant parent in contempt for refusing to adhere to the visitation agreement, a variety of penalties may then be imposed. Penalties include:
- The suspension of the parent’s driver’s license;
- A term of probation;
- A prison sentence of less than six months; and
- A conviction for the petty offense of parenting time abuse, which is punishable by a $500 fine for each violation.
Violating a visitation agreement can have serious repercussions on the well-being of all parties involved. If your ex-partner has violated a custody agreement, contacting an experienced family law attorney who can help ensure that your child’s interests are protected is essential. Please call skilled Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson to schedule a free consultation.