Legal Options for Parenting Time Interference in Illinois
When parents decide to divorce, part of that divorce process involves establishing allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Even if parents were never legally married, they should still petition the court to legally establish custody if they decide to end their relationship.
Unfortunately, once the court has made its final custody determination, there are parents who will not be happy with the outcome. They may feel the child should be with them for longer periods of time than the court established and even take steps to interfere with the other parent’s parenting time.
There are also parents who will attempt to interfere with the other parent’s parenting time because of some other issue. They may be angry over the breakup or because the other parent has started to date again. Some parents will also interfere with parenting time if the other parent is not meeting their court-ordered child support obligations.
Regardless of why this parental interference is occurring, it is important for all parents to understand the civil – and even potentially criminal – penalties they could face for interfering with the court’s parenting time order.
Abuse of allocated parenting time is considered a petty offense under Illinois law, similar to a traffic violation. In order to pursue criminal charges, the aggrieved parent would need to convince law enforcement that the other parent was interfering with their parenting time. Police would then issue a report to the State’s Attorney, who would prosecute the alleged guilty parent.
If the court finds the parent guilty, they will be issued a fine. However, if the parent has been found guilty of two prior violations in the past, the classification of the charge goes from petty offense to Class A misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction can mean up to 12 months in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
Although criminal remedies are available, the reality is that it can be difficult to convince law enforcement to get involved and some criminal judges feel that the majority of these cases should be resolved in civil court, where parental interference is considered a serious offense.
The first step is filing a Petition for Rule to Show Cause requesting the court hold the other parent in contempt for violating the parenting time order. In order to file this petition, there must be a legal order issued by the court that determines custody. This is why it is imperative that even parents who were never married have legal custody in place. Without that order, if one parent decides to keep the child from the other parent – regardless of what type of agreement the couple may have had between them – the other parent has no legal remedy.
If the court finds that a parent did willfully interfere with the other parent’s parenting time, there are several options for penalties. The judge could order the parenting time that was missed to be made up or even change the parenting time schedule. If there have been repeated violations of the parenting time order, the judge can issue fines and even jail time for the offending parent.
Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney
If your parenting time is being interfered with by your ex-spouse, a dedicated St. Charles, IL parenting time lawyer can help. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C. at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free and confidential consultation and find out what your legal options may be.