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Parenting Time Interference Presents Problems

 Posted on July 21, 2017 in Child Custody

Lombard family law attorneyIn Illinois, parenting time is established by your divorce decree or a stand-alone custody order and is not to be interfered with out of any misplaced belief that you are entitled to do so. What people do not understand, however, is that in many situations, attempting to interfere or interfering with your former spouse’s designated parenting time may actually render you liable for civil damages, and it may adversely affect your existing parenting situation. You must understand what constitutes interference and what does not.

Civil vs. Criminal Action

While interference with visitation is not uncommon, it rarely becomes a persistent problem because there are multiple remedies of both civil and criminal varieties that can be employed against the offending spouse. The Illinois Criminal Code classifies interference with parenting time as a petty offense, but if it occurs more than twice in the same circumstances, it is a class A misdemeanor. This may not sound like much of a punishment, but even a misdemeanor incurs fines, court appearances, other inconveniences that may cause a person to think twice about acting in such a fashion again. It may be difficult to convince prosecutors to file charges for such an offense, but the option exists in the law.

In civil court, by comparison, visitation abuse is more likely to be taken seriously—especially in a family court. The definition is somewhat murky under civil law, stating that visitation abuse has occurred when parenting time is expended in a “potentially abusive” manner. This can mean anything from physical violence to a pattern of ignoring obligations. However, a judge does have a fair amount of discretion, so if it can be shown that parenting time is being exercised in a manner that is not in the best interests of the child in question, the judge may curtail it.

How to Hold the Other Parent Accountable

There are two methods by which your former spouse can be made to face consequences for his or her ways. The first is, if you are divorced and have a parenting time order, you may be able to have your spouse held in civil contempt for violating that order. Criminal and civil contempt proceedings are different. Civil contempt is used to compel someone to do something, while criminal contempt is purely punitive. If the judge agrees with your contention that your former spouse has violated the court order regarding parenting time, the court can order your spouse to comply or face further consequences.

The other way to ensure your spouse may change their ways is to bring suit for visitation abuse in civil court. The other parent must be given notice—often usually by law enforcement)—granted leave to reply to your suit, and permitted to mount an appropriate defense. There are some defenses to parenting time interference in Illinois, mostly stemming from protecting the child from what a reasonable person would consider harm. Claiming the child was in danger, however, is not a ticket to the suit being dropped. If the evidence is on your side, the judge may find in your favor and refer the matter back to family court so that your parenting time order may be amended.

Consult a Legal Professional

If you suspect your parenting time is being affected by the other parent’s deliberate interference, you have recourse. Contact an experienced Lombard family law attorney at A. Traub & Associates to get the help you need today. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation at any of our three convenient office locations.



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