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Restricting Parenting Time

These practice area statements are provided by the attorneys from Murphy & Dunn and represent their thoughts on practicing law over the past 36 years in family law. They are not legal advice. They are a general overview of the law, with specific statutes cited for your review, and opinions on how they generally apply in divorce cases in Illinois. Each and every case is different.

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Under the new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Section 603.10 regarding the restriction of parental responsibilities was modified as of January 1, 2016. The new law provides that, after a hearing, if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a parent engaged in any conduct that seriously endangered the child’s mental, moral, or physical health or that significantly impaired the child’s emotional development, the court shall enter orders as necessary to protect the child.

This is the statute that allows a parent to come into court and try to restrict another parents rights to parenting time with their child or children. In effect, they are saying to the Court that the other parent is not a good parent and allowing that parent to have unsupervised, or overnight, or extensive parenting time would seriously endanger the children. The burden to prove that to the Court is on the parent trying to restrict the other parent’s rights.

After a hearing, if the court does make such a finding of serious endangerment, the Court has many remedies available to it, including: (1) a reduction, elimination, or other adjustment of the parent’s decision-making responsibilities or parenting time, or both decision-making responsibilities and parenting time; (2) supervision; (3) requiring the exchange of the child between the parents through an intermediary or in a protected setting; (4) restraining a parent’s communication with or proximity to the other parent or the child; (5) requiring a parent to abstain from possessing or consuming alcohol or non-prescribed drugs while exercising parenting time with the child and within a specified period immediately preceding the exercise of parenting time; (6) restricting the presence of specific persons while a parent is exercising parenting time with the child; (7) requiring a parent to post a bond to secure the return of the child following the parent’s exercise of parenting time or to secure other performance required by the court; (8) requiring a parent to complete a treatment program for perpetrators of abuse, for drug or alcohol abuse, or for other behavior that is the basis for restricting parental responsibilities under this Section; and (9) any other constraints or conditions that the court deems necessary to provide for the child’s safety or welfare.

As you can see, the Court has broad authority to protect children from abusive and endangering situations.

These orders can also be modified if the circumstances change. The court may modify an order restricting parental responsibilities if, after a hearing, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a modification is in the child’s best interests based on (i) a change of circumstances that occurred after the entry of an order restricting parental responsibilities; or (ii) conduct of which the court was previously unaware that seriously endangers the child. In determining whether to modify an order under this subsection, the court must consider factors that include, but need not be limited to, the following: (1) abuse, neglect, or abandonment of the child; (2) abusing or allowing abuse of another person that had an impact upon the child; (3) use of drugs, alcohol, or any other substance in a way that interferes with the parent’s ability to perform caretaking functions with respect to the child; and (4) persistent continuing interference with the other parent’s access to the child, except for actions taken with a reasonable, good-faith belief that they are necessary to protect the child’s safety pending adjudication of the facts underlying that belief, provided that the interfering parent initiates a proceeding to determine those facts as soon as practicable.

In addition, an order granting parenting time to a parent or visitation to another person may be revoked by the court if that parent or other person is found to have knowingly used his or her parenting time or visitation to facilitate contact between the child and a parent who has been barred from contact with the child or to have knowingly used his or her parenting time or visitation to facilitate contact with the child that violates any restrictions imposed on a parent’s parenting time by a court of competent jurisdiction. Nothing in this subsection limits a court’s authority to enforce its orders in any other manner authorized by law.

If parenting time of a parent is restricted, an order granting visitation to a non-parent with a child or an order granting parenting time to the other parent shall contain the following language: “If a person granted parenting time or visitation under this order uses that time to facilitate contact between the child and a parent whose parenting time is restricted, or if such a person violates any restrictions placed on parenting time or visitation by the court, the parenting time or visitation granted under this order shall be revoked until further order of court.”

Parents’ rights cases are a priority with G. Edward Murphy and the attorney teams at Murphy & Dunn, P.C. While our attorneys try many child custody cases in Peoria, Bloomington and throughout the State of Illinois area, the majority of custody cases we handle are ultimately settled by lengthy and hard fought negotiations.

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