Section 607 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act sets forth the visitation rights to be granted to a parent who is not granted custody (or physical possession) of a child. All parents not granted custody or not designated the residential parent for a child are “entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds, after a Hearing, the visitation would endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.”
In other words, it is presumed that the non-custodial parent will have reasonable visitation rights with the child, and the only way to challenge that presumption is for the custodial parent to file a Motion with the court, requesting a Hearing.
It is not uncommon for a custodial parent to state that he or she is “uncomfortable” with the non-custodial parent having substantial time with the child. Often, the custodial parent was used to always being around the child when the parties were a family unit, and now that each parent will have individual time with the child, the custodial parent may be nervous about the new situation. Perhaps the other parent will not be able to care for the child or will be reckless.
Unfortunately, some custodial parents use visitation as a way to attempt to control the non-custodial parent, as some parents use child support as a control tool. However, any custodial parent who challenges the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent needs to show the court that there are specific reasons why that parent should not have reasonable visitation.
What is a “reasonable” visitation schedule? As with child custody, the court is dictated by the best interest standard. Generally, parents will have every other weekend with the child, and perhaps more time during the week. There is no model visitation schedule in the law, and the parents are free to develop their own visitation schedule as long as it is in the best interest of their child.