Sharing parental responsibilities during and after a divorce can be a major source of conflict. You and your ex may get into arguments when the custody exchange runs late or whenever you need to change your standing plans.
There is also the possibility that your ex will try to interfere in your relationship with the kids. They might refuse to let the children go with you or find excuses to cut your parenting time short. What can you do when your ex insists on preventing you from seeing your children or reducing your parenting time without giving you an opportunity to make it up later?
Keep a record of each occurrence
Having thorough personal records showing a pattern of canceled visits can help if you need to take legal action. Those records can also help you have a conversation with your ex.
Sometimes, when confronted with records gathered over a few weeks showing a clear pattern, a co-parent who has treated the other parents unfairly may adjust their behavior. Other times, they may persist in interfering with your parenting time with the children even after you ask them to stop.
State law in Illinois offers you two ways to address this issue
Once you have documentation of the parental interference you have experienced, you can potentially request a hearing in front of a family law judge. The Illinois courts prioritize hearing cases about parenting time enforcement.
They might order your ex to allow makeup parenting time or even send them to a parenting class or counseling. Occasionally, judges will modify the existing parenting plan to give the parent previously denied time with the children more parenting time or legal decision-making authority. The goal is always solutions that focus on the best interests of the children, and those best interests almost always include getting to spend time with both parents.
If you seek a resolution in the civil courts, you may not need to go to criminal court. However, Illinois does also address parental interference in criminal proceedings. Your ex could face allegations of unlawful visitation interference, which is a petty offense. It is not a misdemeanor or felony but is similar to a traffic citation. It is theoretically possible for you to seek enforcement actions in the civil courts and the criminal courts over the same issue.
Understanding how the law helps you protect your parental rights and fulfill your responsibilities to your children to make sharing custody a little easier.