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What Are the Supervised Visitation Guidelines in Illinois?

Happy mother greeting with her African American son on first day of school in schoolyard.

The supervised visitation guidelines in DuPage County, Illinois call for a chaperone’s constant presence when a parent gets visitation. The supervision can be at a designated visitation center or at other locations, such as a home or park, with an approved chaperone. An approved chaperone could be a social worker or family member. Sometimes, the chaperone is related to or connected to the parent who needs supervision. In these cases, the parties involved should follow procedures to ensure the chaperone is capable of keeping the child’s best interests and safety in mind.

Happy mother greeting with her African American son on first day of school in schoolyard.

When Is Supervised Visitation Ordered in Illinois?

Much of the time, visitation is unsupervised. In these situations, parents have a lot of freedom about what they do with their children, where they do it, and who is with them.

However, concerns about the child’s emotional, mental, and physical health can lead to court-ordered supervised visitation. One parent asks a judge for visitations to be supervised, citing worries that the other parent could endanger the child. This is often the case when the following conditions apply:

  • Criminal activity
  • Abuse toward the child
  • Severe mental illness
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Romantic relationship with someone who could harm the child
  • Potential for the abduction of the child

In some cases, noncustodial parents can abduct their children. Even a custodial parent can abduct a child if his or her actions interfere with the visitation. Noncustodial parents can abduct children by not returning them to custodial parents. 

The mere presence of a criminal record is typically not enough to result in supervised visitation. One exception could be in cases of sexual offenses or offenses toward children. Mental illness by itself is not an automatic reason for supervised child visitation, either. The condition must be unmanaged and serious. A judge holds a hearing to review the case, hear the arguments, and make a decision.

Medical records, evidence of neglect or abuse, and parental testimony are common for many parents who press for supervised visits. The visitation occurs either at a designated center or an offsite location. 

Supervised Visitation Guidelines

By default, parents’ visitation time is unsupervised. It can switch to supervised if one parent shows the court that unfettered visitation would endanger the child. This is a high hurdle to clear, and courts do not order supervised visitation lightly.

Judges hear evidence about the parents’ behaviors and assess whether the parent can safely be around the child. Courts want to keep a parent-child relationship intact where possible, so supervised visitation is meant to preserve a relationship while keeping the child’s safety in mind.

The other parent does not have to prove endangerment, and it can be difficult to get an order for unsupervised time. The other parent can say that the unsupervised visitation will be for a short time only and may play on guilt and other emotions. A child custody lawyer is invaluable in these types of situations.

How Long Does Supervision Usually Last?

How long supervised visits in DuPage County, Illinois, last depends on what the judge orders. A guardian ad litem (GAL) may lay out benchmarks or goals a parent must meet to get restrictions removed.

This removal could take a few weeks or a year. Supervisory orders can be hard to lift, and it can take a while for parents to work their way into compliance. The process is often gradual, but frequently does result in parents getting less restrictive visits and then “normal” unsupervised parenting time. That said, it is possible for supervised visits to last indefinitely or even lead to no visitations at all if parental rights are terminated.

If you are a parent following supervised visitations, you can do a few things to avoid supervised visitation violations. For instance, be on time (or early) for your visits, and use that time well. Don’t end visits early unless you have a good reason, such as the child is ill or you have to work. In these cases, the visitation times might be able to be modified to fit your schedule.

Stay away from the issues that caused the need for supervision (such as drugs or alcohol). If mental illness is the issue, take your medications as prescribed and attend treatments as required.

Try your best to meet the conditions outlined in the plan, and be as polite as possible to the supervisor. This person is going to give the court a report about your interactions with the child and how you use parenting time. Being courteous to this person makes a good impression, and it is not the supervisor’s fault that you have to do this type of visitation.

Who Is Eligible to Be a Supervisor?

Extended family members of both parents can be eligible to be a supervisor. Many parties prefer this option because the parent who is being supervised would otherwise have to pay the supervisor.

However, it is important that the supervisor keep the child’s best interests in mind. This is not always possible with some family members helping with supervised parenting time in Illinois. Some relatives may be biased toward one of the parents and put the parent’s perceived interests above those of the child.

Supervisors could be former in-laws, the noncustodial parent’s parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or friends. If you’re a parent concerned that your co-parent’s supervisor is not upholding the pledge to guard the child, your custody lawyer can help. He or she can get the judge to appoint a new supervisor if the court finds it is warranted.

Common duties as a supervisor entail never leaving the parent and child alone and having to interrupt improper talk. This could be the parent telling the child, “Soon, you can come back and live with me,” or talking badly about the other parent. Supervisors should make records of each visit, summarize the visits, and note occurrences such as improper conversations or if the child gets an injury (even if it is 100% innocent).

What Is a Supervised Visit in DuPage County Like?

A visit could be formal at a designated visitation center or relaxed at a location the child goes to frequently. The visit could be at a grandparent’s house, a bowling alley, a park, or some other place. It depends on what the judge allows.

Visitations could be at least once a week for two to three hours, or even longer. The judge orders frequency and duration, and it can increase or decrease depending on what happens. Factors the judge considers for frequency and duration include the child’s age and temperament, developmental level, how much time the child typically gets with the parent, and the strength of the bond between that parent and child.

Judges often do not consider the child’s schedule (nap times, after-school programs, etc.). Judges do consider how much time the visiting parent wants and how much the other parent is willing to give.

Visitation with a young child, such as an infant, may be more frequent due to infants’ lesser stamina, but be shorter each time (an hour, for example). With a 10-year-old, visitation might be once a week for three hours or longer.

Supervised overnights are possible, but occur toward the end of the supervised visitation plan timeline. Parents must prove themselves capable of having their children independently (even though another adult will be present).

What Parents Should Know About Supervised Visitation

Supervised child visitation can be awkward. Experts suggest not making it more so. For example, parents should chat about light topics instead of apologizing repeatedly for their mistakes or putting down the other parent.

Parents should connect with children on their level. Visitation with a toddler is more effective when the parent plays with the toddler instead of trying to talk to the child the entire time.

Preparation is key, too. If the parent is taking the child to the pool, for example, the parent should bring a swimsuit, sunscreen, and other necessities, or ask the custodial parent to send these.

Custodial parents should be cooperative and try to keep the other parent in the loop as much as possible. Telling the parent about the child’s new interests can go a long way.

Goodbyes should be warm, and the parent can tell the child they will see each other again soon. Building trust and keeping to the schedule is important. Parents should not miss visitations if at all possible.

Of course, disappointments may be inevitable. Children get sick, and visits may need to be postponed or canceled. Children can be cranky during a long day and need more space and less pressure to socialize.

Children can also be put on the spot unfairly when a parent asks about the other parent or the parent’s new love interest. Gifts are not necessary or even desirable unless it’s a birthday or holiday. The goal of supervised visitation guidelines is for the parent to build or maintain a relationship with the child, not to “buy” a relationship.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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