There are a wide variety of reasons why you and your child’s other parent may not live in the same home. Whatever drove you apart—if you were ever really together—following your break-up or divorce, you and the other parent will need to develop a cooperative parenting plan that outlines each of your duties and responsibilities regarding your child. As part of your plan, you will also need to include direction over the time that each of you will spend with your child. Once known as visitation, the law in Illinois now refers to this as parenting time and recognizes the importance of quality parenting time in helping to foster a strong relationship between the child and both parents.
Get It in Writing and Get It Approved
If you are or were married to the other parent, Illinois law mandates that your divorce proceedings will need to account for your child. The court will not enter a finalized divorce judgment until there is an approved parenting plan in place or, if necessary, an order for the allocation of parental responsibilities has been issued.
But what if you and the other parent were never married? While children born outside of marriage are far from uncommon, there are often more complex considerations needed to be sure that each parents’ rights are protected. Presuming paternity is not in question, and you have voluntarily acknowledged your parentage, the two of you will need to develop a parenting plan and a schedule for parenting time. No matter how rocky your relationship with the other parent may be, you are entitled to reasonable rights of parenting time.
However, if your parenting time schedule and other responsibilities are governed by a verbal agreement, you will have a very difficult time enforcing your rights should doing so ever become necessary. By submitting a written parenting plan and visitation schedule to the court and having it entered as part of your parenting order, you will have an avenue for relief if the need ever arises.
With a parenting plan and parenting time schedule in writing and approved by the court, the other parent cannot continually deny you access to your child. As with most areas of family law, a pattern of behavior is of much greater concern than a single incident of changed plans that prevented you from seeing your child on a given day.
When your parenting time rights are being unreasonably compromised, you may need to pursue action before the court. In doing so, you may even be granted increased parental responsibilities and additional parenting time. Unreasonable interference by the other parent is not taken lightly by the court and may create statutory grounds for restricting his or her parenting time as well.
To learn more about how we can help you protect your parental rights, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule your free initial consultation with Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today. We know how important your child is to you, and we are ready to assist you in maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship with him or her.