Visitation Rights

In Chicago, a non-custodial parent often gets visitation rights in is a divorce that involves children. The court can also grant visitation rights in a custody dispute to an individual who has a child out of wedlock. Illinois law states that child support and visitation are two separate issues, and the courts generally cannot deny visitation because of a parent’s failure to pay child support. When determining the amount of time a parent will receive, the state must consider:

  • Age(s) of the child(ren)
  • Stability of the non-custodial parent
  • Physical location of the non-custodial parent in relation to the child(ren)
  • Special needs of the child(ren)
  • Employment schedules of both parents

Obtaining Visitation

The first step toward getting a judge to award visitation may be to consult with an attorney who is familiar with domestic laws in the Chicago area. These court proceedings often occur as part of a divorce; however, unmarried parties may need to initiate custody and visitation actions on their own. The state of Illinois does not recognize common-law marriage, so parties who have had a child together while cohabitating generally cannot obtain relief through a valid divorce.

After explaining a client’s rights under Illinois law, the attorney may file a petition for visitation rights on behalf of the non-custodial parent. This petition officially puts the custodial party on notice that the other parent wishes to exercise visitation. The petition may contain a proposed visitation schedule based upon how a Chicago judge has decided in similar situations. The plan may include a schedule for weekend, holiday, and summer visitation. In addition, the plan may need to include specific details such as the drop-off and pick-up times for visitation.

Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparents may also be able to get visitation rights under Illinois law. A grandparent’s request normally happens at the time of a divorce or before a custody ruling. As with non-custodial parents, grandparents who have not previously requested visitation rights may petition a Chicago judge to allow the grandparents to exercise their right to spend time with their grandchildren.

Illinois law does not discriminate against a grandparent whose son or daughter does not have visitation rights. The court may award visitation to grandparents even if the child’s does not have custody or visitation rights. However, grandparents typically get much less time than a non-custodial parent would normally receive. For example, they may have an opportunity to visit once a month with special arrangements for holidays or other special occasions.


Custody and visitation rights may need to be modified from time to time. In particular, parents might need a modification if a non-custodial parent moves some distance away and can no longer see his or her children on a regular basis. A non-custodial parent might also request a change in visitation rights when the court has previously ordered supervised visits and the non-custodial parent believes supervision is no longer necessary. To modify a visitation order, a parent must file a petition asking the court to change the original order. If the custodial parent is unhappy with this petition, he or she may hire an attorney to contest the action in a Chicago courtroom.

Visitation benefits the children of parents who live separately by allowing them to continue a relationship with both parents. Illinois law has long recognized that children and parents alike often benefit from time spent together.