Yes, if you can show that things have changed since the last visitation order was issued and that the changes warrant a new visitation order. In other words, you usually have to show that things aren’t working the way they are.
If one parent moves farther away, the current visitation schedule might not be practical or even possible to maintain. You can ask the judge to issue a new order that takes the new living situation into account. Similarly, work hours might change. If your schedule changes at work and you no longer are able to see your child during the set visitation times, then you can ask the judge for a new order with a new visitation schedule. Another reason a parent seeks a change is if the visiting parent has chosen not to see the child at the set times, or at all.
The need for a change in a visitation schedule might seem obvious but that doesn’t mean it’s automatic. In Illinois, the judge decides based on the “best interests” of the child – the standard that the courts must follow in most custody-related issues. These “best interests” include looking at the wishes of the parents and child, the relationship the child has with the parents and the ability for those relationships to continue, the child’s home, school and community, as well as the mental and physical health of all of those involved.
If you are trying to keep your child away from his or her other parent, you will have to have a good reason to do so. The courts will give reasonable visitation to non-custodial parents in most cases. In order to prevent that, you’ll have to prove that visitation with the other parent is dangerous for your child’s physical or mental health. Unless you are protecting the child from an imminent threat of harm, you should get the court order modified before taking matters into your own hands. If you interfere with a visitation order, you could be held in contempt of court.
Hopefully, you and the other parent can reach an agreement on the changes you want made to the visitation order. This will make the process much easier and quicker. To get started, you will have to file a petition with the court and properly notify the other side that you have done so. It’s a good idea to get the advice of an Illinois custody attorney. If you like our advice or a referral to an attorney, please call us.