Even those parents who manage to get along after a breakup may have moments of tension and conflict when it comes to raising their children. Parents with shared custody may have many more compromises and concessions to make, but situations in which one parent has custody and the other has visitation rights can also be fragile.
You probably had good reasons for fighting for sole custody, and if the court granted it, the judge must have agreed that your situation was in the best interests of the child. If your ex has visitation rights, you know you must comply with the court order. However, this may not always be easy.
When is it right to say no?
While you know that you violate the law by refusing to allow your ex to have the time with the children ordered by an Illinois court, there may be legitimate reasons to do so. Nevertheless, you would be wise to seek legal advice as soon as possible and to keep a careful log of any circumstances that compel you to deny your ex access to the child, such as:
- Your ex uses drugs or alcohol in front of the child, or the child reports that the ex was dealing with intoxication during visitation.
- Your ex has weapons that your child can easily reach.
- Your ex lives in a high-crime neighborhood.
- The police have come to your ex's house because of criminal activity.
- Your ex is physically or mentally abusive to your child or someone else in the house.
- Your child has witnessed acts of violence or abuse.
- There are other circumstances that make you fear for the safety or well-being of your child.
It is important that you involve the courts if you feel your child is at risk by spending time with the other parent. Simple ignoring the court order could get you into legal trouble and may jeopardize your own custody status. This is why it is smart to seek the advice of your attorney if you are in such a situation.
With evidence such as police reports, hospital reports, pictures or witness accounts, you may be able to convince the judge to make some changes. This may include mandating drug treatment for your ex, anger therapy or a physical move to a safer environment. The judge may suspend visitation until your ex meets these standards or require supervised visitation.