Visitation Rules in Illinois

How do I obtain custody of my child?

Either one of the natural parents may petition a circuit court in Illinois for custody of a child. If the parties cannot agree about who should have custody, mediation will likely be ordered. The court can grant custody either solely to one of the parents, or joint custody to both of the parents, based on the best interests of the child.

Where can I find information about missing children?

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children –

This non-profit national information center has a searchable database of missing children. You can contact the center to report a missing child – they may help with a media search.

Phone: 703-224-2150
Hotline: 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST)

Can fathers obtain custody?

In Illinois, fathers can gain custody of their children. The parent seeking custody must meet the same criteria: what is in the best interests of the child.

Can a child have input into a custody decision?

While Illinois law doesn’t allow for a minor to decide with whom or where he or she will live, courts will usually listen to the wishes of children in trying to determine what preferences he or she has. However, the judge must still consider the entire situation and circumstances, including making determinations based on the child’s best interests.

What is supervised visitation?

Supervised visitation means that the non-custodial parent may not spend time alone with the child. It usually also means that the non-custodial parent may visit the child at a particular time and in a particular place. Generally, a third party (adult relative, trusted adult friend, minister, etc.) either agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court, must be present either while the exchange of the children is taking place, or during the actual visitation session. Some supervised visitation may be arranged to take place in “supervised visitation centers” throughout the State of Illinois. There are usually requirements to use the centers (such as an order for supervised visitation or an order of protection). Check with your local court for information regarding your county’s requirements, as well as to where the centers are located in your area.

What are monitored exchange sites?

Monitored, or “safe” exchange sites are places where parents can arrange to exchange their children at a safe and monitored location.

When do grandparents or other relatives have custody or visitation rights?

Generally, the natural parents will have a presumptive right to custody of their child. In cases where there are circumstances or factors that fall under Illinois law (as outlined in Section 601 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act), grandparents are able to petition the court for custody.

Illinois law also allows for grandparents to petition the court for visitation (and electronic communication rights), under specific circumstances which include situations where there is unreasonable denial of visitation by a parent (as well as under other specific circumstances outlined in Section 607 of the Act).

What happens if the non-custodial parent refuses to return the child to the parent with custody?

Under Illinois law, it is unlawful to detain or keep a child from the lawful custodian (the person or persons who have been granted legal custody of a child or entitled to physical possession of a child pursuant to a court order).  This includes a non-custodial parent not returning a child from visitation, thus violating the visitation order or parenting time schedule. Under some circumstances, failure to comply by not returning the child can result in criminal charges.

Are visitation rights contingent on the payment of child support?

No. Visitation rights may not be denied to the non-custodial parent, even though the non-custodial parent is not paying child support.

How do I exercise my visitation rights, if the custodial parent is denying me access to my child?

You may seek a court order enforcing your visitation rights. The court will review all evidence at the hearing and may order modification of the visitation order, supervised visitation, make up visitation of the same time period, counseling or mediation, and/or any other appropriate relief. Violation of the court order can result in the custodial parent being held in contempt of court.