How Child Visitation Works in Illinois

Under normal circumstances, every parent has the right to have visitation with their children. There are, however, exceptions. A standard type visitation schedule might include seeing their child every other weekend, one evening during the week, alternate holidays, and extra time during school breaks and summer vacation. However, many other types of visitation schedules are possible.

One thing to remember, however, is that both parents have the right to have custody and visitation in Illinois. There is no "tenders years" doctrine that states that Mothers have priority over Fathers, or that Fathers cannot have small children overnight or in their custody. Both parents have the right to have their children with them equally. Just like when a child is born, there is no test for a Mother or Father to take the children home from the hospital, there is no requirement that either parent prove their fitness in a divorce case. The law presumes that both parents are fit parents to have custody and visitation until proven otherwise.

At Murphy & Dunn, P.C. in Peoria, Illinois, our lawyers will help you negotiate a parenting plan that serves your children's best interests and also protects your rights as a parent. We want each parent to be able to have a relationship with his or her minor children. Studies have shown that children who have a good relationship with both parents do better in school and are more successful in life. Keep that in mind and try to keep your children out of the divorce process if possible.

Expanded Visitation Schedules

Many parents - in particular fathers who do not have physical custody of their children - are concerned about preserving their relationships with their children following a divorce or the end of an unmarried relationship. If the standard visitation schedule does not work for you, then our attorneys will help you negotiate a visitation schedule that allows you to maintain frequent and regular contact with your children. Many types of visitation schedules are possible, up to a shared physical custody plan where the children spend 50 percent of the time with each parent.

Restricted or Supervised Visitation Plans

Just as some parents seek more visitation, other parents feel a need to restrict the amount of time the other parent spends with a child. This can be based on excessive alcohol or drug usage, cases of domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, or other actions taken by a parent that is not in the best interests of the children. In extreme cases, Peoria has a child visitation center where parents can drop off and pick up children.

For further information, please fill out our Contact Us form, e-mail us at, or call us at 309.674.5551 to schedule your free initial office consultation at either of our two convenient office locations.