Visitation Rights

“Parenting time” (formerly “visitation”), as it is now officially referred to, is an issue you will need to consider if you have minor children. In Illinois, minor children are usually defined as children who are less than 18 years old or have not graduated from high school.

Parenting time means the time during which a parent is responsible for exercising caretaking functions and nonsignificant decision-making responsibilities with respect to the children. Visitation now refers to the time spent between a child and a nonparent such as the child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling or stepparent.

Formerly, Illinois law involved custody and visitation for parents, but now both of those concepts are considered “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Parenting time is one piece of the allocation, and decision-making responsibility (formerly “custody”) is the other piece.

Factors The Courts Considers In Parenting Time And Parenting Plans

Parenting time may be affected by many factors, including the proximity of the parents’ homes to each other after the divorce, the parents’ works schedules, their prior involvement with the children and the children’s needs and activities, especially within the past 24 months. Parenting time is the actual schedule or amount of time each parent spends with their child.

A “parenting plan” refers to a written agreement that allocates significant decision-making responsibilities, parenting time or both. The underlying presumption is that children need both parents, even after a divorce, unless certain facts exist that would make such contact harmful for the children. The fact that someone made a lousy spouse may, but does not necessarily, mean that parent should not spend time with the children.

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