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Restricted Parenting Time: Keeping Both Parents in Their Children’s Lives

Posted on in Visitation

Naperville family law attorneysIllinois law tries, whenever possible, to allow both parents to have parenting time—also called visitation—with their children. However, sometimes that is difficult to manage due to one or both parents’ having issues that would make it unsafe for them to be around their children alone. The answer to this problem is to have supervised or restricted visitation, and to see how a parent fares before permitting him or her to engage in unsupervised visitation.

General Parenting Time Guidelines

A standard visitation agreement is often rather vague, allowing the parents themselves to regulate the terms of the visits. The parent with fewer parental responsibilities entitled, as a general rule, to parenting time unless a court disagrees, and in many instances, the parents are able to work out a schedule that suits all involved. However, if one parent has issues, the court may take action.

There are a few different restrictions that can be placed on parenting time, and they can be implemented at any time if a showing can be made that a parent cannot provide a safe environment - or, as the law puts it, if “a parent’s exercise of parenting time would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.” Courts have broad discretion to modify a parenting time order, but only this showing of danger will mandate actually restricting visitation.

Restricting visitation generally means (at least in Illinois) limiting the times and places a visitation may occur. However, sometimes it means supervising parenting time while still permitting it to take place.

Supervised Parenting Time

If a court decides that your case requires visits to be supervised, that ruling will stand until it is reviewed again in the future. Sometimes the visits themselves are required to be supervised, while sometimes only the transfer from one parent to the other must be watched. The reasoning depends on the issues the court has identified. For example, if there is a credible threat of child abduction, transfers will be monitored, while if a parent has, say, substance abuse issues, the visits themselves will likely be overseen.

Illinois law has a rebuttable presumption that children will benefit from having both parents in their lives, and unless it can be shown conclusively that the opposite is true, the system will work hard to make visitation possible. Supervised visits are one option, and can be done anywhere from either parent’s home to a public park to a visitation center. A wide range of people may serve as a supervisor; it does not need to be a professional. Anyone from a neighbor to a religious leader may serve, and in some cases, supervision may be provided by the other parent.

The purpose of allowing supervised visits is to give children a life that contains both parents, but also creates an environment where the child or children’s physical, mental, moral and emotional health are not at risk. Supervised visits can also work in the parent’s favor - if the divorce or custody proceedings haves been difficult or ugly, the supervisor’s testimony can prevent the supervised parent from being blamed unfairly for any harm to the children.

Let Us Help

To most parents, their children are the most important priority in their lives. Supervised visitation is better than none at all, and an experienced attorney may be able to help you gradually transition to unsupervised visits or fight for more time. Contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney to discuss your options. Call 630-352-2240 for a confidential consultation today.


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