Many Illinois parents go through the trouble of obtaining a court-ordered custody arrangement, willingly or otherwise, only to face repeated violations from the other parent.
When your co-parent disregards a custody order, it is not only frustrating for you, but it may be illegal under state law, and you may be able to pursue recourse.
What constitutes parenting time abuse?
Small, reasonable violations to the parenting arrangement are excusable and a matter of course between two parents juggling busy lives with one another. If the other parent occasionally shows up late to an exchange location, it is not likely to qualify as parenting time abuse.
But if your co-parent is routinely neglectful of your agreements — or outright defiant — it may qualify as parenting time abuse.
For example, the other parent may intentionally show up hours late or hours early when exchanging your child, disrupting your schedule. The other parent may make excuses to keep the child an extra day. Or he or she may break agreements you have made. For example, he or she may take your child out of state when you have agreed against it or may require you to drive hours away to pick up your child.
These and similar situations may qualify as parenting time abuse, and you may have legal recourse.
What recourse does the court offer?
If a court finds that your co-parent is guilty of parenting time abuse, a judge may order, at the least, the other parent to comply with additional terms and conditions to your agreement, require you both to attend counseling or allow you to make up the lost parenting time.
If the abuse was particularly egregious, a court may make any rulings it finds reasonable, including punitive actions or changes to the custody arrangement. A judge may even find the other parent in contempt of court. A finding of contempt could result in fines and prison time for the other parent.
It is important to only bring these claims to court when you have a reasonable case, however, as judges can order the losing party to pay the other party’s legal and court fees.