Visitation…your right of access to your child.

All parents who are not granted custody are entitled to visitation with the minor child or children unless restricting or denying visitation is in the child or children’s best interest.  There must be some identifiable or manifest circumstance that would negatively impact the child’s health, safety or well-being.  The exact language granting visitation is found in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/607):

607 (a)   A parent not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.

In essence, non-custodial parents are entitled to access to their children under just about most circumstances barring some serious issues with the non-custodial parent’s behavior or living conditions.  A few examples might include, driving with the child while drunk or otherwise incapacitated by non-prescription drugs; violent behavior against the custodial parent (in the presence of the child) or violent behavior against the child, other forms of physical or emotional child abuse (sexual, psychological and the like), and dangerous or non-existent living conditions of the non-custodial parent might raise some issues related to overnight visitation, but would probably not defeat the general right to visitation.

Visitation is appropriate either in person and via electronic communication and is allowed through email, telephone, instant messages, video teleconferencing and other electronic methods.  750 ILCS 5/607 (a)(2).

Visitation is an exceedingly valuable right granted to non-custodial parents by our laws.  It is not just the other side of child support, and is specifically separated from the payment of child support under Illinois law (the old “no money, no visit” doctrine is improper).

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