Illinois Family Law: Remedies for Abuse of Allocated Parenting Time

Cari Rincker Family/Matrimonial Law Leave a Comment

Going through a divorce is complicated, even more so when children are involved.  Once you have finally arrived at a judicially-mandated order or approved agreement with respect to the custody and visitation rights of each parent, it can be devastating for your ex-spouse to repeatedly violate that order or agreement. In this blog, I discuss the relief available when your ex-spouse is guilty of the “abuse of allocated parenting time.”

 What is Abuse of Allocated Parenting Time?

 In a divorce between two parties with shared children, an approved parenting plan or custody order sets out each parent’s allocated parenting time.  If either party does not comply with the terms of that plan or order, e.g., by withholding the child or children during the other parent’s allocated time, then the injured party may petition the court for a ruling to enforce the allocated parenting time.  If the court finds that a parent abused his or her allocated parenting time, then the court may order various forms of relief.

What Remedies are Available for Abuse of Allocated Parenting Time?

If a parent is guilty of abusing his or her allocated parenting time, the court is empowered to enforce any of the following remedies:

  • The court may hold the non-complying parent in contempt. A parent that violates allocated parenting time can be found in indirect contempt of court, which comes with potential consequences such as probation, suspension of driving privileges, conviction of guilt for a petty offense, and even periodic imprisonment.
  • The court may issue a civil fine to the non-complying parent. The dollar amount of such a civil fine is a matter of discretion for the court, but it could amount to hundreds of dollars per incident of violation.
  • The court may require that the non-complying parent post a cash bond. This bond is forfeited if the non-complying parent continues to violate the allocated parting time agreement or order. The bond amount is a matter of discretion for the court, but could be several thousand dollars.
  • The court may award the petitioning parent attorneys’ fees. The court may also award the petitioner other court costs and expenses associated with the action.
  • The court may impose additional terms or restrictions on the non-complying parent’s parenting time.
  • The court may require that either or both parents attend a parenting education course. This expense will be shouldered by the non-complying parent.
  • The court may require counseling. The court can order that either parent, both parents, or the entire family attend individual or family counseling, and the court will decide how this expense will be allocated between the parties.
  • The court may order the parties to arrange make-up parenting time for the aggrieved parent. The make-up time must be of the same type and duration of that withheld by the non-complying parent, and should be completed within six months of the original violation of allocated time.
  • Finally, the court may require that the non-complying parent reimburse the aggrieved parent for any losses incurred due to the violation.

In addition to the enumerated remedies above, Illinois law provides that courts finding an abuse of allocated parenting time may enforce “any other provision that may promote the child’s best interests.”  This is an area of significant discretion for Illinois courts, and suggests that neither parent should take lightly his or her responsibilities with respect to allocated parenting time in the wake of a divorce.

If you are looking for assistance with a divorce and/or custody and visitation rights, contact our law office and schedule a consultation.


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