If you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, your child is most likely your top priority, especially if you have been allocated the majority of the parenting time. You work hard to meet your child’s needs and to provide the best possible life for him or her. In an ideal situation, your child’s other parent would also make your child a priority, and while your opinions on specific aspects of parenting may differ, common goals can allow you to work together constructively.
Issues often arise, however, when parents have drastically different views on what is appropriate for their child. In some cases, this can even lead to the child being placed in dangerous environments. If you believe that your child is in any type of danger when he or she is with the other parent, you may need to take action quickly.
What the Law Says
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, both parents are presumed to have rights to at least some parenting time with their child following a divorce or breakup. Even a parent with no significant decision-making authority has, in most cases, the right to reasonable parenting time—formerly known as visitation.
During a parent’s parenting time, he or she is afforded a great deal of flexibility in the way that he or she interacts with the child. As long as the parent is not acting in violation of an existing parenting plan, he or she can parent the child however he or she chooses. This does not, however, give the parent the right to place the child in physical, mental, emotional, or moral danger.
What You Should Do
If you have reason to believe that your child is danger when he or she spends time with your former partner, it is important to bring the issue to the court’s attention immediately. In an emergency situation, you may prevent your child from going with the other parent, but keep in mind that you will need to present your reasons for doing so to the court. If the court determines that time with the other parent seriously endangers your child’s well-being, the other parent’s parenting time may be restricted.
The court is unlikely to deny parenting time completely except in the most extreme situations. Instead, the court may:
- Reduce or limit the other parent’s parenting time;
- Require that parenting time be supervised by an appropriate party;
- Order all exchanges to take place in a protected setting;
- Require a parent to abstain from drugs or alcohol immediately prior to and during parenting time;
- Limit the presence of other individuals during a parent’s parenting time;
- Order a parent to complete drug or alcohol treatment or programs for perpetrators of abuse; or
- Set any other conditions necessary to secure the child’s safety.
Should such restrictions prove to be inadequate, the court may take further action up to and including the termination of parental rights.
Protect Your Child
If you share parenting time of your child and are concerned for his or her welfare with the other parent, contact an experienced Elgin family law attorney right away. Our compassionate team will help you explore your options under the law and will work with you to ensure that your child is fully protected at all times.