If you are a parent, and you have been granted visitation rights as part of a child custody agreement, it is illegal for your child’s other parent to deny these rights. If this occurs, the other parent can be charged with visitation abuse. If visitation abuse happens repeatedly, it can have serious consequences for the perpetrator – including prison time.
Visitation abuse is a violation of Illinois Statute 750 ILCS 5/07.1. According to this statute, visitation abuse occurs when a party has willfully, and without justification, denied another party visitation as set forth by the court, or exercised his or her visitation rights in a manner that is harmful to the child, or the child’s custodian.
This statute does not just apply to situations in which a custodial parent (that is, the parent who has custody most of the time) refuses to let the other parent see the child at all. It can also refer to attempts to frustrate visitation, such as a parent deliberately arranging a child’s schedule in such a way that he or she will be unavailable during intended visitation hours.
The penalties for visitation abuse range quite a bit in their severity. Visitation interference is considered a petty offense the first and/or second time a parent commits it – but the third offense (and any further offenses) are Class A misdemeanors. A custodial parent who refuses to comply with a visitation order can have his or her drivers license suspended, be forced to pay a fine, or even be imprisoned (for a period no longer than six months).
In the case of Foss v. Foss, a mother did not want her children to see their father, and denied visitation on five separate occasions. She also refused to cooperate in scheduling psychological evaluations of her children. Because of her failure to comply with a court’s orders regarding visitation, she was found to be in indirect civil contempt, and was sentenced to an indeterminate period in jail. The judge chose to stay her sentence, so long as she complied with the visitation order.
If Your Visitation Rights Are Denied
It is crucially important that you do not react to a denial of your visitation rights by refusing to pay child support. As frustrating as your situation may be, you will only make things worse if you fail to pay child support. Not only will you be punishing your child, rather than the parent who is denying you visitation – you will also be putting yourself in danger of going to prison.
If you are being denied visitation rights, you can address the manner in civil court, or in criminal court. Before you take any actions, though, it may be best to speak with an attorney. You can call the family law attorneys at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. in Naperville, Illinois today, at (630) 961-0060, or you can contact us online. We can help you decide which steps you should take, in order to ensure that you are able to see your child again as soon as possible.