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Unfit Parent Claim Can Restrict Visits

Unfit Parent Claim Can Restrict VisitsIllinois law presumes that both parties in a divorce are fit parents, allowing them an equal right to the allocation of parental responsibilities. The parenting time and decision making may not be evenly split between the parents, but the divorce settlement will give reasonable responsibilities to each side. However, a court can limit or deny a parent’s responsibilities if it determines the parent is a threat to the child. Unfit parents may be required to use supervised visits in order to see their children.

Determining Unfitness

A parent can claim that the other parent is unfit during or after the divorce. Because of the presumption of fitness, a parent who believes his or her former spouse is a danger to their children must provide evidence to support the claim. A court needs documentation or reliable testimony that a parent may harm a child’s physical or mental health, such as:

  • Abuse, neglect and abandonment;
  • Allowing another party to abuse the child;
  • Impairment due to drug or alcohol abuse; and
  • Consistently obstructing the other parent’s right to access.

When a parent is accused of being unfit, a court may order temporary supervised visits while it hears the claim. However, it will lift those restricted visits if it does not see proof of unfitness.

Restricted Access

If a court does determine that a parent is unfit, it can limit or deny the parent’s allocation of parental responsibilities. The unfit parent will likely lose much of his or her right to decision making. Parenting time may be allowed with stipulations, such as:

  • Requiring supervised visits with a court-approved monitor;
  • Prohibiting drug and alcohol use before or during a visit;
  • Denying other people access to the child during visits;
  • Restricting communication with the other parent;
  • Providing an intermediary to supervise child exchanges between the parents; and
  • Ordering a parent to pay a bond to ensure that the child is returned.

Sex Offenders

A criminal conviction can automatically restrict a parent’s access to his or her children, depending on the nature of crime. Illinois law specifically identifies parents convicted of committing a sexual act against a victim younger than 18 as not being allowed to see their children until they have:

  • Completed their prison sentence and probation; and
  • Convinced the court that they are not a danger to their children.

Parental Responsibilities

A child’s best interest is the highest priority when determining parent access after a divorce. A Naperville, IL, family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, can propose an allocation of parental responsibilities that protects both your parental rights and your child’s safety. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.


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